Of fish and of administrators

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” And yet, there is a catch.

You’ve probably heard of this proverb before. That is why as far as my job as a network administrator is concerned, I’ve always tried to teach people how to fish, not to give them fishes. This, however, does not mean that my coworkers have always looked kindly to it.

Approximately a year ago, during the auditing season, when we were extremely busy, I was constantly called to the executive secretary’s office. By far, her computer is the busiest in the entire complex. So, she kept asking me to help her with her problems. Gradually, however, my technical assistance service turned into digital chores. I still can’t remember when. But I do remember how I realized: I received a technical assistance call, and dutifully proceeded to executive offices. The secretary asked me to plug her fax machine into the power outlet. That’s what woke me up. This request, by no means, was a technical support request. (Just for the record, she does not use the fax machine. On rare occasions that sending or receiving a fax is needed, her computer is more than capable of doing it.)

My concern has always been to make things easier for employees. In doing so, however, their expectations changed: They no longer want to learn fishing. They expect me to fish for them every day and feed them.

A year ago, I did something I had never do before: I started declining or postponing certain tech support requests. (Not flatly, of course. That’s a just cause for termination of employment. In a workplace, one must always be smart about his or her behavior.) I carefully assessed the impact. Knowing that I might not come when they need me, most of the employees became more eager to learn. A few, however, started complaining more and even grew hostile. I often wonder: What should I have done differently from the beginning?

Posted on 2019-10-15, in Social. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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