Disparing remarks about another’s work, shortcuts, not documenting the work done… these are just a couple of the ways you can ensure your reputation isn’t a good one.
While this list is aimed at consultants, it applies to ANY job, especially tech. And if you are in Customer Support in any way, it darn sure applies to you! You may not be doing the billing, but the principles are all the same. Keep your client happy. Keep your employer happy.
1: Ridicule another consultant’s work
Nothing can make you look more unprofessional than mocking someone else’ work. Someone before you might have made some mistakes… or did they? Maybe there was a reason for what they did. You never know. So it’s best to keep the running commentary to yourself. It doesn’t make you look better when you say things like, “Well, I never would have done it this way!” or “That previous tech sure did a poor job configuring this machine.” That just makes you look petty. Do your job the best you can and refrain from making comments about previous work.
2: Make deals you aren’t authorized to make
Don’t go quoting prices and fees you’re not 100 percent sure of. If you think a client might request a quote, either have a menu of prices with you or give them the right number to call.
3: Take shortcuts
The last thing you want to do is to take a shortcut that you aren’t sure will last. Band-Aids are fine if you know you are coming back to make a more permanent fix. But eventually, those shortcuts will fail and will need further attention. This is not the type of chance you want to take. It frustrates the client, and it makes you look bad.
4: Book time spent socializing
Make sure you bill the client only for the time you actually work. Start the billing period when you start working, not when you’re talking about last night’s game, a date, your +3 vorpal sword, or The Big Bang Theory (or all of the above).
5: Act like employees are in your way
You are there to serve those employees, who may or may not be able to do their jobs while you are working. You are actually in their way. But they understand you have a job to do, and most often, they respect it. Remember that you are the invader — not them.
No matter how cute, pretty, sexy, or smart employees are, do not engage in flirtatious activity with them while you are working. You are there to do a job and to do that job right. Nothing can get in the way faster than when your mind has been body-slammed by your libido. Not only that, you never know when the line between flirting and sexual harassment has blurred. You do NOT want a sexual harassment suit brought against you and your company. If you feel a strong desire to connect with an employee on the job, share your phone number and ask that person to call you.
7: Engage in political or religious discussions
We all know that the last two topics you ever want to discuss in the work place are politics and religion. No matter how strong your views, don’t. If you do, you most likely will regret it.
8: Leave without explaining what you’ve done
Let the client know of any changes you made that may affect them. No matter how small. You never know their competency level, so you can’t be sure how small a change is change enough to throw them off.
9: Fail to document
Documentation is almost always one of the last thoughts on a consultant’s mind. It should, however, be one of the first thoughts. Documentation will always make your job easier. When you return to a site, you don’t want to have to try to figure out what you did the last time you were there. Document it, map it, draw it — whatever you have to do so that if you come back, you can pick up as if you just left.
10: Refuse to listen to employees’ needs
It is inevitable that while you are working, employees will talk to you. Many times, they will be fascinated with what you are doing. And sometimes, they will assume that they know more than you and want to help you. Sometimes they are saying something you need to hear. Someone might know of a smaller issue that is a fundamental cause of the bigger problem. Or someone just might have another problem that can be resolved (and billed). Keep your ears open and don’t make the employees feel like what they have to say is unimportant (even if it is).