Top 10 excuses that your boss hates…

Top 10 excuses your boss doesn’t want to hear


There are lots of reasons why a project might not be going well or may even fail. When your boss wants to know why, there is a world of difference between offering an excuse and providing a legitimate reason. In truth, most excuses only make your manager more upset and put the blame on you. Here are 10 common excuses that employees give their managers — and how you can turn them from weak excuses into a way of getting your supervisor to help you resolve the problems before your project is jeopardized.


1. I didn’t understand the assignment


Not every boss has great communication skills. And yes, having a manager who is not good at explaining what needs to be done makes life difficult. At the same time, using your boss’ inability to explain things as an excuse for not doing them just does not fly. If an assignment does not make sense, it’s your responsibility to find out what really has to happen. And if you find yourself in this situation more than once, it is a sign that you need to be extra careful when working with this particular person to get things fully understood.


2. The deadline was impossible


We all know this situation: A manager hands you an assignment with a deadline attached to it. You tell the manager that the deadline can’t be met and you’re told, “I don’t care; make it happen.” When the deadline is missed, you say, “But I told you the deadline was impossible!” and the boss is still angry. The disconnect here is that simply saying that the deadline is not possible is not good enough. As soon as the boss tells you to do it and you passively accept the ridiculous deadline, you make it your responsibility to meet it. Your best defense is to negotiate a better deadline, and to do that, you need a project plan. The fact is, you always should be able to paint a picture of what a project will entail with some broad strokes anyway, and it is fairly easy to assign some rough estimates of the time to make each step happen. When you show your supervisor that even the most optimistic rough draft of a plan that omits a million minor details shows that it will take three months and they are demanding three weeks, guess what? It is now your manager’s responsibility to deal with the deadline issue. You have turned an opponent into an ally, and no sane boss can hold you accountable for the bad deadline anymore.


3. A valuable resource was not available


A good part of a manager’s job is to ensure that the team has adequate resources in the form of time, money, and equipment. If you are missing a critical resource, your manager needs to know now — not when the project is late or has failed — so that he or she can fix the problem immediately. When you tell your boss ahead of time, it’s not an excuse — it’s asking for help to solve a problem. When you tell your boss after it’s too late, it becomes an excuse and the failure is on you.


4. The requirements shifted


We all know that requirements get changed constantly. All too often, projects undergo the “gold plating” process long after deadlines and success conditions are determined. That being said, it is really bad form to use this as an excuse for failure. It’s up to you to nip these changes in the bud as they come up. With each new requirement, you need to show how it will affect the possibility of meeting deadlines and the defined success conditions and either move the goalposts as the requirements change or don’t allow the change. If you allow new requirements to be added without changing deadlines, you have effectively made it your responsibility to meet the new targets.


5. I have personal issues


We all have personal issues that come up from time to time. But if your personal issues are affecting your projects’ success, you need to either deal with them or get some help with your work. If things have gotten to the point where your boss is asking you, “What is going on here?” it’s too late. Explaining your non-work issues at this point is just going to make your boss even more upset. But if you explain that you are having some troubles as soon as you see they are affecting your work, your boss will be able to make the needed adjustments. Most supervisors would rather shift resources or expectations than try to force someone with an outside issue to be 100 percent.


6. I don’t have enough time


If you do not have the time to do something, no amount of money, motivation, or resources can make it happen. If there is too much on your plate, you need to get rid of some of it or let your manager know you are overwhelmed. If you don’t get any relief, it’s your manager’s problem, not yours if deadlines can’t be met. But like so many of the other situations listed here, it is your responsibility to make it clear that there is a problem as soon as you can, so that adjustments can be made.


7. I don’t know what went wrong


Some projects just fall into a rut and never get out. When you’re doing the project post-mortem, there is no single thing anyone can point to and say, “This is what messed the project up.” All the same, when a project is off the rails, everyone is usually aware of it, even if they don’t know why. This kind of situation can be embarrassing. After all, how can you know that the project is blowing up but not know why? Usually, it’s a case of “death by 1,000 paper cuts.” The project lead had a bad illness and lost a week of time, the servers were down for a day due to hardware failure, the QA person had a death in the family, and so on. All of these reasonable issues can add up to a critical amount of lost work. All too often, we think that if you just keep pushing, maybe the mystery problems will go away and the project will get back on track. But it never actually works out this way. If a project is going south, you have to let people know, even if you don’t know exactly why, so they can adjust expectations.


8. We ran into blockages


Workplaces are filled with people who have different, sometimes contradictory, goals. For example, you might need the QA team to test your application but another team’s project has priority, so your application does not get tested until long after your deadline is missed. These kinds of work blockages happen all the time. If you can’t get the situation sorted out yourself, determine how much delay you will suffer and what your options are and present them to your manager. Armed with that information, your manager will be able to make a decision from there or possibly get priorities straightened out.


9: The only copy of the work got destroyed


If your work is stored on a computer, you have no reason in the world to have only one copy of it. Not only should you be making regular backups, but they should be on different devices in different locations. Back up local files to the network server or work on the network and allow the IT department to handle things. If you think your boss will give you a free pass because the only copy of a critical file was on your laptop, which no longer works after you dropped it, you are dead wrong. In reality, using the “no backups” excuse will have your boss wondering whether you can be trusted with any more projects at all. Back up your work, and you will never have to tell your boss that the dead thumb drive has your only copy of the project.


10: The dog ate my homework


Sometimes, inexplicable events come up that keep you from getting things done. These things happen. Does your boss want to know that your project is late or won’t be done satisfactorily because of these kinds of random issues? Of course not. But sometimes, there simply is nothing that can be done about it, especially when it comes up at the last possible moment. Just roll with the punches on this one (TechRepublic).

10 tech tasks to do in your sleep.

10 tech tasks you should be able to do in your sleep


1: Run chkdsk


Recently, I had a client whose two point-of-sale machines were randomly crashing. When onsite, I asked the age of the machines (I had my suspicions) and found out they were approximately four to five years old. And judging from the size of their QuickBooks data file, the machines got hammered on a daily basis. It took only a quick run of chkdsk to find out the machines’ drives had errors. This command should definitely be in your toolkit. In some instances, it will save you a great deal of time.


2: Uninstall antivirus


There’s been a rash of viruses in this area lately, and the old school antivirus just isn’t cutting it. We often prescribe AVG Pro, and as with nearly all antivirus solutions, the current antivirus must be uninstalled before installing the new. The unfortunate reality is that every antivirus has a different path to complete uninstall. The first place to look, of course, is the antivirus menu entry. Sometimes it will have its own uninstaller. If not, your best bet is to either carry with you (on a flash drive) tools that will do the trick or have Internet access so you can go to the vendor’s Web site and find out how to uninstall. After a while, you’ll have them all memorized. 


3: Map drives


This is one of the easiest tasks with one of the biggest benefits (at least in the eyes of the client). Mapping drives makes finding data on remote locations so much easier for the user. And successfully mapping drives means you won’t be called out again because the user can’t seem to locate the data on the server any longer. 


4: Join a workgroup


If a company has multiple machines that need to share files, but it isn’t big enough to require a domain, joining those networked machines to a common workgroup will make everyone’s life easier. But I am always surprised when I hear that consultants are unsure of the benefits of workgroups and/or how to join a machine to a workgroup. This is consulting 101. 


5: Join a domain


This takes the workgroup to another level. Not only can you see other computers that reside on the domain, login credentials are contained on a single machine so users can log in from any machine on the domain. The process of joining a domain is similar to that of joining a workgroup. You will, however, need to know the complete domain of the company. Is it DOMAIN or DOMAIN.local? Another basic task, yet it’s overlooked time and time again. 


6: Use the command line


It always strikes me as unbelievable when I run into IT pros who don’t know how to use the command line. I guess I have an advantage coming from a Linux background, but every consultant should know how to use the command line. Even in Windows, it’s a must-know tool. 


7: Safely restart a Linux server from the command line


You will come across this one day. And although it’s rare for a Linux server to need rebooting, you need to know the command sudo reboot and how to do it so that users have time to log out of whatever they’re doing. Just like any computer, if you don’t shut down or restart safely, there are dangers. 


8: Check for rootkits


Rootkits are nasty. And many times they go unchecked and destroy all of your hard work. Every consultant must know how to check for a rootkit or at least know of a good antivirus software that includes rootkit defenses. If your client’s machines aren’t being checked for rootkits, cross your fingers when you finally install a tool to check. If a rootkit is there, the damage might already be done. I have dealt with rootkits that rendered a machine unrecoverable. 


9: Replace any component on a machine


You never know when you will have to replace RAM, a video card, a CPU, or some other component. Although these tasks seem far too simple to even mention, there are some people who, when faced with replacing a CPU, will toss up their hands and tell their clients they have to purchase a new machine. To those consultants I have to say “Really?” Replacing hardware is done for sport by most geeks. Be it power supply, hard drives … you name it. Get your hands in that case and get them dirty! 


10: Deal with angry clients


Although this doesn’t address computer issues, it is one of those challenges you’re inevitably going to face. Either you’re dealing with a client who is generally an ugly person or you have done something they didn’t like. One way or another, you’re going to need the skills to calm those clients down and reassure them that you will do everything you can to make them happy. It may mean you take a loss on the job or it may mean you put in more time than you really want. But making that cranky client happy will go a long way in helping your reputation. Of course there are limits. Some people are simply never satisfied. The best solution for those types of clients? Fire them.

By Bill Detwiler (TechRepublic)

February 17, 2011, 12:52 PM PST

The beginning of each year is a perfect time to reevaluate your IT department’s routine activities and look for time-wasting tasks that you can push to the wayside. While the specific tasks each IT department deems cut-worthy will vary, there are a few activities that nearly all IT departments should stop doing right now. They are:

  1. New hire office setups: I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that these days most new hires can hook up their own computer. I’m not saying IT shouldn’t configure the machine, but 99 percent of the time there’s no need to have an IT staffer visit the employee’s desk, unpack the components, and connect the cables.
  2. Relocating computers for normal office moves: Again, today’s average office worker should be able to handle this task. IT may need to ensure the new workspace has network connectivity and should provide instructions for moving equipment, but there’s just no need for an IT staff member to break down an employee’s machine, carry it to a new desk, and set it back up.
  3. Setting up phones: A colleague once told me of an old employer, that years ago required a telecom staff member to move any phones. Neither the users nor the IT staff were allowed to simply pick up a phone, move it from one desk to another, and plug it in. In today’s world of merged telecom/IT departments and VoIP phone systems, restrictions like these are just silly. There’s no reason for an IT staff member to physically move a phone–unless you’re having the jack rewired.
  4. Replacing copier/printer/fax toner cartridges: While IT should still be involved in the deployment and network support for printers, copiers, and fax machines, there’s no reason non-IT staff can’t change a toner/ink cartridge. It’s just not the difficult.
  5. Installing keyboards, mice, speakers, or monitors: As with printers, copiers, and fax machines, IT should be involved in and perhaps even control the purchasing and deployment of peripherals. But, there’s no reason every keyboard or mouse replacement should require a desktop visit. The average office worker should be able to unplug their old mouse and connect a new one. At the same time, IT should be deploying peripherals that minimize installation problems.

Final word

Are there exceptions to these rules? Sure. It’s much easier for IT departments that support tech-savvy users to relinquish these responsibilities. And, then there are corporate executives–who expect a desktop visit no matter what’s wrong. But for the most part, IT personnel shouldn’t be wasting time on tasks non-IT employees can handle. And if a problem does pop up during a new keyboard installation or office move, users can always call the help desk.

A Semantic Web Management System

A Semantic Web Management System.

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My SQL cluster quick install on Solaris.


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