5 things never to say to your bosses

No matter how frustrating your job is, it probably beats the alternative. But you’d be amazed how many IT pros make career-ending moves every day. 

CIO.com recently collected a list of seven things that can get IT pros fired, for instance. An entire company got the boot over the healthcare.gov fiasco.

And venturing outside the IT world into traffic of a different kind, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie sacked a long-term aide over the Bridgegate scandal.

It’s a minefield

Career-killing mistakes are everywhere. With that in mind, here are five things IT pros should never tell their bosses – unless they want to try their hands at the job market.

1. “I told you so”

Let’s be honest, you probably did. IT is constantly making the pitch for more secure and reliable technology and improvements to existing systems.

It’s also usually getting shot down for these requests.

While you certainly wouldn’t celebrate something like a system failure or data breach, reminding higher-ups that you requested help is a bad career move. It feels like a challenge to their judgment (even if that challenge may be legitimate).

Lesson: Push for security investments and improvements, but if they get shot down have a Plan B … perhaps a less comprehensive security plan, but something that will at least give you a marginal boost.

2. “We don’t support that device”

Consumerization and BYOD have let that horse out of the barn, and it’s not going back in. If an exec wants a certain device supported, it’s going to happen – with or without your help.

Instead of refusing to support devices, explain limitations. For instance, “We can set you up with email and documents, but you may still have to use your laptop for other functions” sounds much more convincing than, “Sorry, can’t help.”

Either way, it’s a good reminder that it may be time to invest in some mobile device management software.

3. “We have our eye on him/her”

Keeping track of users’ behaviors online is important for security. But one of the best ways to wind up in court for discrimination is to target individual users for extra scrutiny online.

If you’re monitoring users, avoid looking at specific employees alone. Instead, you should check for concerning behaviors across the user base.

Many companies find themselves in legal trouble for paying careful attention to what specific employees do or say online while not observing others.

4. “Just this once we’ll make an exception”

Again, enforcing policies equally is crucial. It can’t be said enough.

If courts find IT departments made exceptions for individual users, companies are going to be in trouble. If a user has too many privileges or is trusted to much, there’s going to be no excuse if they make a mistake (or worse, abuse their privileges on purpose).

No one wants to be the bad guy, but IT does need to put its foot down when it comes to enforcing policies. Better to deal with complaints than fallout from disaster.

5. “That’s not our job”

There was a time when IT’s role was clearly defined: Procure, fix and troubleshoot technology.

Those days are long gone. Today IT has a part in almost everything a company does, from planning to strategy to finances. That’s an exciting place for your department to be, but also a confusing one.

If you find that old clearly defined role sneaking into your mind, focus instead on asking “What would our role in this be?”

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