by Meridith Levinson

IT Professionals’ Paradoxical Popularity Problem

Dec 03, 2009

Sometimes, for IT professionals, work is just like being in high school all over again. Sigh.

I came across this whimsical little article, 5 Friends You Should Have at Work, yesterday. The article lists the top five co-workers who’ll make work more fun or more productive for you. Guess who’s ranked the number one person to befriend?

It’s you! The IT manager! But it’s not because you’re the life of the party. Here’s the explanation:

When your computer freezes, your e-mails disappear, or you can’t for the life of you remember your password, there’s only one person to turn to: the IT manager.

They may or may not be someone you’d actually hang out with outside of work, but make sure they’re your buddy on the job.

Between making sure your computer won’t crash just before a big deadline and having the power to see everything you’ve ever done on the Internet, this is someone whose good side you definitely want to stay on.

I’m glad to see IT professionals being recognized and hopefully shown some respect for the enormous power they wield over others’ productivity and privacy, but the aforementioned rationale for befriending the IT guy or gal is disingenuous and maybe even a little insulting, depending on your sensitivity level.

In fact, it reminds me of high school, where the smart kids get “used” for their brains: Everyone wants to be the smart kid’s best friend when they need help with homework, but when Friday night rolls around, the smart kid is home with her parents watching re-runs of Dallas on TV because no one ever calls to invite her to the mall or the movies. (Yes, I experienced this.)

So, IT managers, what do you make of this rationale for befriending you? Do you have a lot of “friends” at work who are nice to you simply because you can get them out of a jam? Does it bother you, or is it just office politics as usual?