I really like this article! It’s so true. A bad boss can be a disaster for any good organization.
An entire company is put on hold after the boss asks for the administrator password to the corporate phone system
It’s a bad sign when the non-IT boss asks for an administrator password.
Often it leads to some kind of disaster: being fired, a tech mess to clean up, and more such requests in the future.
A few years ago my boss asked for the administrator password to our phone/voicemail system and, surprise surprise, ran into some snags.
It was a Friday morning, and I was planning to be out the following Monday for my kid’s birthday party. My boss, “Sheryl,” stopped by my desk and surprised me by asking for my administrator password. It would be an understatement to say that I was concerned.
Sheryl is proficient with Microsoft Office, for example, but the phone/voicemail system isn’t her forte for sure. She usually left the tech details to me, so this request was unusual. She’d never mentioned our phone systems before. What did she want with the password?
I asked, and Sheryl replied that she wanted to play around with trying to improve the handling of phone calls in the organization. I asked her what she wanted to improve, but she said she wasn’t sure exactly. I told her I could provide phone call statistics from the system for her to review, but she insisted on taking a look herself.
I had a sinking feeling that I was facing not only a potential disaster with the phone system, but that this was only the beginning of Sheryl wanting to “take a look” at other systems as well. At that moment, I didn’t see any alternative other than giving her the password. She is the boss, after all.
I gave her the password, but I also showed her how to back up all the settings on the phone system before she changed anything. In addition, I handed her the 500-page phone system administrator manual for reference.
Before leaving for the weekend, I made one more backup of the phone/voicemail configuration and stored it on one of our servers. Then I left, hoping for the best.
On Monday during my kid’s birthday party, I got a call on my cellphone. I didn’t recognize the number, so I didn’t answer it. It rang again a few minutes later from the same phone number, but I let it go to voicemail. My phone rang a third time, but I was busy with the party and decided I’d look into it afterward. I helped my spouse clean up, then checked the voicemail from the unknown caller.
That caller turned out to be Sheryl, dialing from her personal cellphone, which is why I didn’t recognize the phone number. She told me that the office phones weren’t working.
I rang her back on her cellphone and asked her what happened when she tried to make a call. She said the phones had a dial tone and employees could buzz each other in the office, but they couldn’t call out or receive incoming calls. She said she tried to dial her work phone from her cellphone, but couldn’t get through.
I asked her if she made any changes to the phone system. She said she made some changes to call reports — and thought that couldn’t possibly affect the inbound/outbound calls. I told her I’d take a look. I logged in remotely via the VPN to check the phone system.
I used the built-in trace tool to find out how calls were being routed. As expected, calls between internal extensions didn’t bring up any problems — only calls dialed out or coming in. After doing basic hardware checks, I surveyed the software configuration of the system. A big section of the dial plan was missing, including how inbound/outbound calls were routed.
I called my boss back and explained what I had found. I told her that she must have accidentally deleted sections of the dial plan when she was in the system and asked if she had made a backup. She said no, because she was just “making changes to call reports” (so she said).
I told her I’d see what I could do to fix it as quickly as possible. After I ended the call, I rolled my eyes and sat for a few minutes to drink a glass of orange juice.
I retrieved the backup I’d made the previous Friday and restored it in less than 10 minutes. I rebooted the phone system with the restored dial plan, and the phone calls started working normally. To make sure I called Sheryl’s work phone to tell her that the phone system was back to normal. She was very grateful and told me to take the next day off also.
Sheryl has never gotten into the phone/voicemail system again. Since this incident she has never asked to look around in any system to figure out how to improve things. One can hope she’s learned her lesson, but you never know.