Note: This article also appears on Windows IT Pro.
Everybody knows that fellow employee who just can’t wrap his or her head around technology. This might be the person who types by pecking at keys with both index fingers and is absolutely befuddled by the concept of the cloud. This is also likely the person who accidentally downloads malware, deletes things by mistake, always asks questions with quickly-Googled answers, and yes, opens far too many support tickets.
There are a few ways to deal with problem users. Tossing them out the window is the obvious answer, but prisons are overcrowded as it is and they have terrible Wi-Fi (so I hear). Instead, why not spend some time proactively trying to educate and update users on everything IT? If they knew a little more, wouldn’t they be more capable of handling things on their own and free you up for the big things?
A great way to do this is with a monthly update for users that goes over what you’ve been up to, what you’re going to be up to, and addressing some common concerns. Here are some things to consider adding to your newsletter:
Update users on upcoming patches and maintenance. When are you going to implement patches? Will you be testing things or rebooting servers? Is there any planned downtime that will affect their work this week?
Offer users information regarding security threats. There are new phishing scams and malware schemes popping up all the time. Part of your monthly update can include new issues that users might encounter out in the wild web, whether it’s a new email threat or certain nefarious sites that have come to your attention. If you can help them be vigilant about threats, you can curb some of the issues associated with them.
Update users on issues you’re aware of. There might be times when an area of your building has a particular issue that affects a number of people, which could prompt a few people to send support tickets about the same problem. This is annoying because you can end up wasting time reading about the same problem a few times. Include in your update some information on issues you know about and where you’re at with fixing it so you can minimize open support tickets for things you’re already aware of.
Update users on company-wide projects. It’s nice for the company to know what you’re up to. What projects have you been working on? How are you improving the infrastructure and software workers use every day? A lot of IT people feel underappreciated because users don’t always understand everything they do for them. Why not share what you’re doing to make sure everybody has what they need?
Reiterate policies and procedures. Whether you’re talking about security policies related to BYOD, cloud file-share services, or best practices, it can be useful to review company IT policies. Users won’t have an excuse for violating policy after having been updated multiple times. Plus, those who understand them well will be more inclined to follow them.
Offer users tips and tricks. Tips and tricks can be fun to share and even to write. Maybe in the previous month you got a lot of questions about mapping a network drive or a number of users had the same question related to CRM software. Your newsletter can include various tips for users that can eventually elevate them from casual users to power users.
Share your personality. Lastly, don’t forget to make it fun. You’re not a robot and your emails shouldn’t look like they were written by one. Inject some personality, include photos or even videos if you like. Your update doesn’t need to be a boring document that people toss away, it can be something people look forward to because the information is useful and the tone is entertaining. More employees reading your newsletter can mean more employees becoming capable users.
A newsletter can seem like a lot of work when you’re already busy. Just know that if you do it right, you stand a good chance of helping employees be more capable, which reflects well on you and your ability to help users do their jobs. Test it out, if you see a good response and start to see fewer help desk tickets for silly issues, you’ll know it’s working. If not, you may discover your time is better spent performing other tasks. In any case, it’s certainly worth the effort to proactively curb some of the issues users bring to your attention daily.
Photo credit: Kyle James via Flickr