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EDIT: I submitted the question yesterday, and I have had a ton of helpful suggestions and a lot of great answers. Thank you very much for your help!


You all have helped me to deal with some difficult situations in the past, and today I find myself in another tight spot. I am hopeful that this community can help me, but I'm not sure if I can word the question adequately. Do you think the Workplace is the right place for this question? Or is there a better way to ask the question?


Working Title: How can I convince my colleague to call the help desk instead of contacting me directly?


This morning I received an email from a colleague, who doesn't want to call the help desk anymore, [we'll call him Joel.]

I manage a small team of IT professionals, responsible for the care and feeding of a pretty typical SMB with less than 1000 employees. Among our many responsibilities, we all answer a shared phone line that we colloqiaully call the "Help Desk." Users call in with a variety of problems / questions. We have users that run the spectrum, from power users who only call when there is an outage, to technophobes who call for help whenever an unexpected dialog box appears.

Joel has been a pretty regular caller in the past, but this morning he emailed me to let me know that he doesn't want to call the Help Desk anymore, instead he will be contacting me directly for all future questions. When I replied, asking Joel for details, he let me know he doesn't want to talk to my direct report [we'll call him Rick.]

"Nothing personal with Rick, but I have tried working with him in the past and he doesn't know or can't help and he is over bearing to talk too [sic.]"

EDIT 1: Rick has been with the team for almost a year now, and he has a consistently positive attitude. He is far and away the friendliest and most outgoing member of our team. He is a knowledgeable and capable member of the Help Desk, and this is the first time I have heard any complaints about his performance there or anywhere else.

For a number of reasons, I don't want Joel contacting me directly every time he has a question.

EDIT 2: I have read through some helpful answers to similar questions ([1], [2],) but these questions don't approach the issue from a manager's perspective, and so I find myself still struggling.

How can I convince Joel to call the help desk instead of contacting me directly?

I intend to craft another question regarding how best to manage Rick through this situation, but I am open to any advice you have to offer on the topic.

  • You can always try The Workplace Chat too for these types of more squishy questions. – enderland Apr 3 '18 at 15:04
  • I know we have a similar question out there that I can't find, asking how to tell a colleague to put in an official ticket instead of just calling them directly. I think the questions are different enough, since Joel is essentially "elevating to a manager", but it would be good to read the other question to make sure they're distinct. I'll keep digging. – David K Apr 3 '18 at 16:43
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    Found a few questions, all linked to one another: [1], [2], [3]. Definitely not a duplicate, but still might be worth mentioning in your post to preemptively say why it's not. – David K Apr 3 '18 at 16:51
  • Thank you @DavidK that was an informative read, and I agree. It will take me a little while, but I will edit my question accordingly. – Lumberjack Apr 3 '18 at 17:42
  • Good edit. Thank you @DavidK – Lumberjack Apr 4 '18 at 12:36
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Seems on-topic, but I'm not sure that you'll be able to separate the "Joel issue" from the "Rick issue", since they seem intertwined.

More specifically: if Joel's complaint about Rick is valid, then deal with your "Rick problem". If not, then deal with your "Joel problem".

  • Thank you for your candor. That is a good point. Do you think it might help if I include details about Rick's performance in general? Rick is knowledgeable and very well liked by (almost) everybody (I thought.) – Lumberjack Apr 3 '18 at 15:29
  • Joel on the other hand has a reputation for being surly and aggressive on the phone. – Lumberjack Apr 3 '18 at 15:36
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    @Lumberjack That's a clarification you should definitely include in your main-site post. Sounds like you have a Joel problem, not a Rick problem. Obviously, talk with Rick to see if he might have some insight as to what is going on, perhaps Joel didn't like some (correct) advice he was given. – BradC Apr 3 '18 at 15:43
  • Thank you for the suggestion to ask Rick about the situation. I'm a little embarrassed to say that never occurred to me as an option. – Lumberjack Apr 3 '18 at 15:45
  • @Lumberjack One more idea: if your help desk auto-records support calls, then review all Joel's calls, not just those with Rick. – BradC Apr 3 '18 at 15:56
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    Even if there is a Rick problem, he needs to deal with his Joel problem. I think both are fine questions to ask here. – Monica Cellio Apr 3 '18 at 19:35

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