4

Recently I started a new job. My position is tech support. I didn't know this until I started the job, but it seems like the company places no value on streamlining things. There's a wide diversity of software and hardware used. Even in the accounting department, the people sitting beside each other have different versions of the OS running on computers with different specs (like the amount of RAM). To me, this seems strange. It would've been easier for the business to order in bulk. I asked a manager why it was like this and he said it was because when a person got a budget then they were able to do an upgrade. This still doesn't make sense to me.

Also, I was told there is no documentation in terms of what the departments/teams are or where people sit. I think knowing this would help me do my job as right now a lot of emails sent to the tech-support inbox seem very out of context to me.

Maybe there was a misunderstanding but someone from the developers team verbally offered to show me around a bit. To me, this sounded very casual and informal. Also, I had received virtually no orientation. I thought about his offer for a short while, checked my calendar, and asked by email if he was free for a meeting on a certain day. His response was to CC his manager who was away and suggested we wait until his manager returned. (I found it a bit peculiar that he didn't even say what day that would be). Now his manager is messaging me asking when I'm free for the meeting. He also mentioned that if we're not working in the same building we could do an earlier date by a Teams meeting. This suddenly feels very formal. In my past job, it was considered better to schedule a meeting instead of just springing a 30-minute-long conversation with them whenever. It seems here that this is not the culture. In general, I've noticed emails are sent out to very wide audiences with lots of people CC'd on them even if they likely have no input. (It's getting to the point where I think it's detrimental because my inbox is swamped and I'm missing things people thought I read, even if it's one sentence in a mass email. I tried setting up a rule in Outlook to help with this but it's been disabled at the server.)

How should I reply to the manager's email? Should I just go along with it and make the schedule? Why was the manager involved in the first place? Should I tell them I don't have any specific questions and was just wondering at a high level what their team was working on so I have more context if they send me a support request?

TL;DR I'm new. Someone from another department verbally offered to show me around and discuss what was going on with me. When I tried to set a time by email his response was to CC his manager and let him arrange the meeting.

9
  • 3
    @GregoryCurrie: Isn't that what a "meeting" is? An agreed-upon timeslot in the calendar of at least two persons to do some specific activity together, no matter whether that means discussing a topic while sitting around a table or meeting up at a "site" to inspect something first-hand? Commented Aug 31, 2023 at 2:25
  • 3
    @O.R.Mapper Depends how formal you want to make it. If you want to keep it casual, don't use language like "meeting". Commented Aug 31, 2023 at 2:45
  • 2
    @GregoryCurrie: My point is that if it is in the calendar and involves at least one more person, it may be called a "meeting", if only by virtue of the underlying calendar software calling it so. Take a tour through the building together at an agreed upon time? Meeting. Renew your access key card at an assigned tmeslot? Meeting. Spend lunchbreak together to go to some food place at a specific time? Meeting. Maybe it's not the way you use the word, but it's easy to see why someone might. Commented Aug 31, 2023 at 2:51
  • 3
    @O.R.Mapper We are not slaves to "underlying calendar software". Commented Aug 31, 2023 at 4:06
  • 2
    Why is everyone here bent on overcomplicating everything?
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Sep 1, 2023 at 3:56

3 Answers 3

6

I think knowing this would help me do my job as right now a lot of emails sent to the tech-support inbox seem very out of context to me.

This is a reasonable assumption; I'll just keep it here as a quotation for further reference.

Maybe there was a misunderstanding but someone from the developers team verbally offered to show me around a bit.

Not sure there's a misunderstanding there; if, as you outlined, they have no written overview of who sits where and does what (which may be the case due to a variety of reasons), said colleague might think they're offering you the next best thing they can by personally giving you a tour.

if we're not working in the same building we could do a sooner date by a Teams meeting

This does sound like the part about you seeing the department in person got lost in communication. If you think that is beneficial to you (and maybe you do not, given that originally, you were just looking for documentation), you could mention that you are trying to get an idea of which team does what, and with which equipment, and that the original idea for the meeting, as suggested by your co-worker, had been to go look at the department in person, so you'd rather wait till everyone is in the office.

Why was the manager involved in the first place?

Frankly, I read this as the co-worker thinking your request/desire to learn about the teams is important enough to include their manager. And apparently, their manager does not disagree with that assessment. That's a good thing.

Should I tell them I don't have any specific question and was just wondering at a high level what their team was working on so I have more context if they send me a support request?

Kind of; that is as specific as you need to know to efficiently do your job. I'm not sure who brought up the 30 minutes, or whether you just mention this number in your question, but that would be another hint that you are indeed just trying to get a brief overview - 30 minutes is actually a pretty short time where you cannot go into much detail for any topic.

In all, I'd use the opportunity to get more insight into the team, as was your intention in the statement I quoted in the beginning. And to get to know not only your co-worker, but also their manager.

If you prefer to see the team and their workplaces in person, as was originally offered to you, now is the time to mention that and nudge the meeting into the direction that is most helpful to you.

3
  • 2
    It does sound like the developers want to help IT help them, and a personal introduction and tour is a great way to start the relationship.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Aug 31, 2023 at 14:31
  • Thanks! Maybe I'm overthinking things but something that concerns me is where is the meeting going to happen. In my initial email I suggested we have the conversation in a meeting room but there was no follow up to this. The developers sit close together in a group of 8. I have noticed the company culture seems to be the opposite of "mind your own business" and it's very common for people to jump into other's work and conversations that is happening near them. I personally find this distracting. I think having the conversation in the meeting room will allow us to focus better.
    – marsmunch
    Commented Aug 31, 2023 at 20:48
  • "And apparently, their manager does not disagree with that assessment." Or maybe the manager has no idea what this meeting is about and why they were CC'd, and also has a swamped mailbox, so they prefer to figure things out via video conference rather than via more emails.
    – Stef
    Commented Sep 5, 2023 at 17:07
2

It sounds like the developer was being friendly. But then you asked for a meeting. Which is formal straight away.

If you did not specify a subject, then no one up the chain knows what it is about. Perhaps you have a complaint, perhaps you want to leave. I think it is a good sign that they want to listen to you.

I think you should accept. It could be beneficial to get to know the manager.

2
  • 1
    What would you call it instead of a meeting?
    – marsmunch
    Commented Aug 31, 2023 at 20:39
  • 1
    Having a meeting and meeting someone is not the same.
    – CrazyFrog
    Commented Aug 31, 2023 at 23:21
1

It sounds like you come from a very formal corporate culture as far as IT implementations are concerned. I work in one. From a support perspective, these types of organizations offer a high level of competency from their support personnel by way of documentation, and a limited platform of operating systems, software, and hardware. This makes a tech support concern mostly predictable in its outcome.

The latter situation is definitely NOT the case where you are now, and you are obviously ill at ease. I'm surprised that you didn't pick up on any of this while you were interviewing, and you may have some important decisions to make in the next few months on whether this can work for you or not.

You also seem reluctant to opening up to the support you're going to need to do the job in this situation. You used to be able to handle a lot via documents and written procedures, but that's not going to work where you're at now. A lot of things are going to have to be solved ad-hoc, and how you solve a problem for one user won't work for the computer in the next cubicle over. You're going to need some friends to get through a day, and you're not going to be able to solve all problems perfectly on the first try! I'd bet a small amount of money that there's some perfectionist traits causing some anxiety for you.

It would make sense to accept any opportunities that you can to learn about how problems get solved, and who'd be subject matter experts for various concerns. Do this by any means necessary. Glean information from teams, in-person meetings, and the email threads from hell. Make plenty of notes, especially in-person; person A knows THIS, person B deals with THAT. Get familiar with faces, and find some lunch-buddies. "Formal"? "Informal"? Let that go, friend. You have to learn some new protocol in this place.

As long as no one's blaming you when you can't do things perfectly in such an environment, go home at the end of your day and LET THINGS GO. And really, really, REALLY stay away from conversations right now about streamlining and standardization, because you're only going to frustrate yourself if everyone else is okay with the status quo.

If all this is just too much for you... well, best of luck on your next job, and be sure to ask better questions in the interview.

4
  • This is a very good answer, but I would not go so far as to make a guess about "there's some perfectionist traits". Not something I would read out of the question. Commented Aug 31, 2023 at 20:44
  • What questions would you ask in an interview to find these things out? If a company is disorganized they will probably won't admit it in an interview.
    – marsmunch
    Commented Aug 31, 2023 at 20:54
  • @marsmunch: Funny enough, I've been to one that did even without asking, and by the CTO no less. Presumably, though, only after getting the vibe that I'd thrive in such an environment rather than being scared away and quitting after a few months. Commented Sep 1, 2023 at 0:35
  • @marsmunch it appears you didn't ask about documentation until you had already taken the job. That would have been the first step!
    – Xavier J
    Commented Sep 1, 2023 at 14:05

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .