Hotheaded manager backs tech into a corner

A higher-up wants a problem fixed yesterday, and a busy techie has to improvise a quick solution—without alerting upper management

Hotheaded manager backs tech into a corner
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My company is fairly locked down and compartmentalized, which is good—until someone high up in the food chain wants something done ASAP!

On that particular day, I had a full plate, and of course, my co-workers were all out to lunch, leaving me alone to take care of any emergencies.

The facility manager—let’s call him “Fred”—wanted to know why he couldn’t edit some files on the server. He could view them, but he and another employee couldn’t alter them. It turned out he had read access to that folder, but not write access.

I got the request and went the folder’s owner to grant approval for write access. Per protocol, I then sent the request to the point person for our region—“Barney”—to make the needed changes. Barney’s usually on top of matters and gets these done within minutes. But he wears multiple hats, and sometimes it takes a little longer.

Not fast enough

I had moved on to the next task and was assisting another person when Fred stormed into the office and asked why his request hadn’t been granted yet. I calmly explained to him that I had submitted the changes to be made and they should be done soon, as it had been less than 10 minutes.

He completely lost his cool. He started yelling, “Why can’t local IT take care of it? Who is this person who holds all the permissions in his hand? Who’s your boss? Who do I have to call? Why can’t I have these permissions right now? Don’t they know we have a company to run, and if I can’t edit those files, we lose money?!?”

I didn’t want this man contacting my boss’s boss—I don’t like to be called on the carpet, especially for following procedure and doing my job correctly. I tried to answer his questions, but he would have none of it, so I ended up giving him the name of my boss’s boss, who happens to have an office at another location.

It was one of those days I didn’t have time to deal with a long run-in with the boss’s boss and in my frustration thought it’d be faster if I took care of it myself. Before Fred left, I sternly requested, “Don’t call anyone. Give me 10 minutes!”

Racing back to my desk, I called Barney to see if he could make the changes right away. He laughed at the situation and said Fred has to realize that he is one of a number of employees and the world won’t come to an end if he had to wait; also, Barney didn’t care if the facility manager blew his top. Still, he dropped everything and took care of it right then and there—for me, not for Fred.

I went back to Fred’s office and told him he now had the permissions he needed, but he would have to log out, then log in to his computer before it worked (as is normal with most environments). I headed back to my desk, where I had someone waiting. No sooner did I greet them before my phone rang.

Yes, it was the boss’s boss. I braced for the worst.

Fortunately, by the end of our discussion, he informed me that he felt Fred was a bit of a hothead and had defended me, saying that I was following protocol. He then communicated to me that he thought I was doing a good job, and Fred was pleased with my work.

The busy day resumed and all was back to normal—at least as normal as it can get in an IT department.