Anger and frustration at work – my experience and learnings

There are a great number of things that irritate me at work and while I do spend a fair bit of time ranting on Twitter, there are some things that do require more than the average 140 characters. I have a hard time controlling my anger and frustration, something that I am working on trying to fix (and I’ll address that a little later in this post) but there are a wide number of things in my current role that have started to get under my skin and cause me to lose my cool. This post has been worked on for the better part of 12 months, so it contains a decent amount of…aggravation.

I am the only Windows admin in early. This makes life fun when shit hits the fan at 7:30am. The other two Windows admins are usually in between 9:30 and 10am, and they both stay back late, so I don’t begrudge them that. However, they are benefited by the fact that there are two of them. It also doesn’t help that, as the early starter, I’m usually the only one in the office until 7:30-8am. So not only am I the only Windows admin, I’m the only admin PERIOD. Not much fun when things are breaking, people are yelling and the world is ending…at least, in someone’s eyes.

In my work place, Windows and Microsoft are still considered dirty words. As a Windows sysadmin and a champion of Microsoft products in the workplace, this has been really hard to deal with. The entrenched hatred is almost impossible to overcome because people *don’t* want to overcome it. It’s far better to hate something that to learn to accept it and move with the change. So it’s still seen as “less than” and the jokes aren’t funny…just as they weren’t funny the first time around. Not sure that’s going to change any time soon either…

Martyrdom is still alive and well within my work place. Taking on too much and then complaining about it is the norm. Not sharing work with others, although sometimes due to a misguided attempt to “not bother anyone” is a problem, as work piles onto those who can least afford the time to get it done – so the tasks being piled on them are often missed or done in a poor fashion. And don’t even think about doing work that isn’t your queue – heaven forbid you take someone else’s job and do it, that’s seen as an overstep. Not sure why, but it is. Is rather confusing for me – if you can do a job, do it. I don’t understand the need to “hoard” jobs. It doesn’t show you’re busy, it shows you’re lazy…particularly when some of those jobs are 30 second fixes >.<

Documentation here is a bit of a myth. I know some teams have plenty, but our team has very little, and what we do have has been pieced together from various sources of truth and even then it’s still not up to scratch. There’s no push to complete documentation either – it’s seen as a necessary evil, but one that should be avoided, if at all possible. I come from a totally different school of thought, where documentation is required and a valuable asset for a team. Here, it’s seen as a way to get yourself fired – why would you write down what you know, then you’re considered superfluous and no longer needed. Idiot mentality. Drives me crazy. I’m trying to slowly fix it, but it’s a long and hard battle.

Communication in general is a problem. Not many people talk to each other. No one wants to share information, such as simple things like where they are, when they’d like to take holidays, what their plans are. Even simple things like “I’m going to a meeting, I’ll be back in an hour”. Doesn’t happen. It’s almost like the entire team is made up of individuals who are still working individually >.< This has slowly been fixing itself, mainly with the introduction of a new manager who is all for more communication.

There is also a feeling of “This is just a way to pay the bills”. I can understand that in some people – IT may not have been the “calling” that it was for me. But we’re here to do a job. We’re being paid to help a customer, help a client, do what needs to be done. I really enjoy my work, I like my job and I do get some pleasure out of the work I do day-to-day. When shit hits the fan, I know to get my arse in gear and fix it…not decide that now is a good time to go for coffee. I get a bit frustrated by the attitude of some people towards their role, particularly the “That’s not in my job description” line. I’ve been known to pull that stunt and I always feel dirty doing it…

The feeling of “What the customer wants, the customer gets” is still very prevalent, although much less so since our manager changed. Having a technical manager who knows the limitations of our environment is extremely helpful, but it wasn’t always so. We’re still dealing with a fair amount of “But you’ve always done this for us!” – yes, we have..but only because we weren’t allowed to say NO!

Security is a hindrance. Locking down access is seen as a problem, not a necessity. Taking the “easy route” is better than trying to actually fix the problem in a secure manner.

(I want to point out that these are the things that bother me – there are many MANY things that I love about my job and that I do enjoy, and I love working where I do else I wouldn’t still be there! Please don’t take this list as being the sum of what my workplace is like, because it truly isn’t. I just needed somewhere to vent these things that wasn’t to my colleagues who have heard these grievances many…many…many times)


Strangely enough, I’ve learnt a fair bit from many of these frustrations – I’ve learn how to be a good manager…and what makes a really bad one; I’ve learnt what I see as my ideal job…and what parts of my current job I find totally boring and useless. I’ve also learnt a fair bit about myself and my personality – and how that affects how I interact with others.

My dream job appears to be a technical role – I’ve been looking at management, and as much as parts of it really interest me, I still “want to get my hands dirty” (if that makes sense). I enjoy the technical aspects of my job, it’s why I wanted to do IT in the first place. So I think my dream role would be a technical team lead or some kind of pre-sales technical engineer role for Microsoft products…or, if I was good enough and could prove my worth, a Microsoft Technical Evangelist. That would be exceptionally epic!

I’ve also learnt how to deal with frustration and anger at work a *little* better than previously – unfortunately, I’m one of those people who has to let *out* my frustration and, in my case, that comes out in tears. So a word of advice to anyone who’s a colleague – if you see me with red eyes and a stuff nose, it’s probably because some god damn server just won’t do what it’s supposed to do >.< I’m learning to control this and to calm myself down, but that’s taking time. It seems to be getting better as I get older – or maybe that’s because I’m finding less and less frustrating šŸ™‚

Dealing with people who frustrate is a bit harder – I am learning to control my frustration towards them and focus on the situation and not the person, but that can be difficult. I am a very *very* outspoken person and I’ve learnt that I don’t tend to suffer stupidity, idiocy or laziness from those I work with easily. Turning away and leaving it be seems to be the best course of action if I don’t want to end up on the end of a harassment HR case. As much as swearing or yelling would be an outlet for me, it isn’t going to fix anything and I’ve learnt that it’s much better to come back to the situation with a calm and logical outlook to get it fixed rather than blow up and possibly severe the relationship with that person.

I’ve also learnt to distance myself from my work – that’s been hard, as I’ve always loved what I do and I’m the kind of workaholic who takes work home on weekends and while on holidays. I do still tend to check emails while I’m away, but I’m learning to do that less and less frequently. It’s hard because I know that things will be sitting there waiting for me, but I’ve discovered that checking my email earlier just leads to me stressing about it when I should be enjoying myself and my life – not worrying about work!

The last lesson I’ve learnt is that it’s very very easy to slip and become passive aggressive and/or cynical about your work. Passive aggressive behaviour is rampant through IT (and definitely in my work place!) and it’s something that I really try hard to avoid – which isn’t too hard as I’m just aggressive, nothing passive about me! The cynicism is harder – While i understand that dealing with the same problems, day in and day out, can be trying, you need to ensure that cynicism doesn’t creep in. I know I’ve felt the cynic in my rise the occasion during certain situations but I try not to let it take over.

So there you have it – my anger and frustrations from my work and the learnings that I’ve brought away from them. Hopefully this doesn’t do me out of a job someday ^_^

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