Management trust

Management’s role in passionate users

A few months ago, Skyler started working part-time at a Mrs. Fields cookie store at a local mall here in Colorado. They treated her — no, all employees — like ex-convicts. The default company assumption was “Employees are NOT to be trusted!”

This reminds me of a client of ours. Because we do IT consulting as well as provide internet services, we have a few customers who we go above and beyond the ordinary limits of support for (typically because they pay us a large hourly rate to do so). This client is a local engineering firm who recently hired a couple new contractors. Just before they started work, their in-house IT guy (actually just one of the engineers who the job was dropped on) called us to have us set up a couple mailboxes @their-domain for them. But, he explained, these should be set up differently than all their other mailboxes, as they have different requirements for these new employees. We ended up setting up a complicated series of aliases so all incoming mail to these people would be forwarded to various management figures within the firm before making it to the mailboxes they ultimately retrieve their mail from.

He also wanted to make sure they wouldn’t have access to the firm’s file servers and wondered if there was any way they could monitor the e-mail they sent out. He wasn’t happy about that last not being possible, but he accepted that they’re going to have to live with it. All this surveillance makes me wonder if they’ve got someone listening in on their phone calls or installing keystroke loggers on their workstations.

Why do they hire people they don’t trust? How much enthusiasm do they expect them to have for their work in such a hostile environment?