Group Theory

Insulating Your Subordinates


As a manager, there are several tasks one must perform outside of their daily duties, the most critical being insulating your subordinates; having been in the military, I understand this all too well. Managers are the outer, protective layer which deals with the bureaucracy and politics of the office, so that your employees do not have to deal with things outside of their pay grade, emotional outbursts (my computer doesn’t work!), and anything that takes focus away from their job.

In IT, many techs don’t get paid enough to put up with upset customers or disgruntled employees, let alone upper-management. Also, the bulk of IT employees tend to have picked this profession due to the minimal social interaction, thus shifting the responsibility of meetings and direct vendor contact to their managers (hopefully).

Similar to the philosophy of praising in public and correcting in private, managers, regardless of the profession, need to adhere to the social contract of the world, in and out of the office. Good bosses deflect, great bosses protect.

Everyone has someone they answer to, regardless of the position. For subordinates, there is one job that applies to them, make their supervisors look good; in IT, this occurs when ticket queues are empty, and projects are completed on time. Supervisors, on the other hand, have two jobs; they need to make their boss look good, as well as keep crap from falling onto their subordinates from higher up the food chain.

We’ve all had the pleasure of dealing with an angry customer or employee who feels that at that specific moment, IT is literally ruining their life; this is why a ticket-based reporting system is so necessary. By submitting a ticket online instead of in-person, you create a method of bypassing the social interaction for that situation. Even with the most frustrated person filing a complaint via a ticket, the worst thing that can happen is them typing in all caps or adding in a few curse words (which just ensures that ticket is shared amongst your peers and laughed at.)

Finally, another excellent method of shielding your team from upsetting situations is knowing and reporting to the right people in different departments. For example, our customer service agents are not allowed to have any business-related conversations with our IT department; instead, they have to share their issue with their customer service manager, which then creates a ticket for us. Now, when one of our IT members walks to the restroom, they will not be bombarded with questions like, “can you turn up the brightness on my monitor” (when it isn’t even plugged in).


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