Your job description mentions nothing of the sort, but each day at the office there’s a new IT-related problem with your name on it. You begin to realize that you’ve become the company’s tech support division – on top of your actual job.
It’s great to be admired for your technological prowess, and helping here and there is fine, but there’s something wrong when coworkers you didn’t even know existed start asking you for IT help.
As soon as you tell them you can’t help, they look at you, puzzled, and ask, “Oh, you’re not the IT person? Can you help anyway?”
Of course, your inherent kindness and obvious aptitude for computers makes it difficult to say, “No,” and that’s why you’re in this situation.
Here’s how to stymie these requests without being a (huge) jerk.
Reign in Your Reputation
The moment you find that frequent, out-of-the-blue requests are negatively affecting your work, then it’s time to start cutting back.
Here are a few ways to slowly tone down your reputation as the person willing to fix everyone’s computer problems for free:
- Be genuinely busy with other things, like your work.
- Don’t offer your help anymore. Only help when requested.
- Politely decline. Small requests are likely to snowball.
- Suggest helpful resources. Explain that you’re just going to Google the answer.
- Play stupid. It’s as easy as saying, “I don’t know how to do that.”
- Bring your non-IT interests to the table when conversing with others.
Speak to your boss or manager
If your friends and family call upon you to fix their computers, being the IT pro at the office is a normal extension of your personality. However, it’s a slippery slope when it comes to the workplace, because there are people constantly needing IT help in an office.
When you scan your inbox and it resembles a support ticket system, you might be forced to take the nuclear option: Schedule a meeting with your manager and tell them that your colleagues have developed an expectation of you that does not match your actual job duties.
In the meeting, emphasize that you believe there is a serious lack of IT support and that the company should set up a dedicated help desk or contract a professional. This is the most desirable outcome for both you and the business, as it frees you up to do your job while keeping office productivity high.
In case they’re unwilling to take up that suggestion, ask for a policy to be set in place that officially absolves you of any IT responsibilities. Any good manager will agree, especially if they’re aware of the negative impact it can have on your performance.
What if you really like doing IT?
Do you think you might enjoy doing IT more than your current job? Maybe it’s time to dive into a new career working with IT services. Clearly, there’s a need for an IT professional at your current company, so you might not even have to look far to get your first IT job. After all, you basically already have it.
If it’s not possible to move into IT at your company, yet, you still want to help, consider making yourself available as a freelancer or contractor. The next time someone in the office asks for you to look at their computer, hand them your newly-minted business card and confidently state your hourly rate. What comes naturally to you is magic to others, so value your skills accordingly.
You can also go a step further and specialize with training or certification. What area of IT do you enjoy? Check out the CBT Nuggets course list and start learning today!