Employees are pushing back against management and IT staff over the tools they can use, according to a new survey by NextPlane. This pushback can have severe consequences for tech pros and their company as a whole. NextPlane, which builds collaboration platforms, has annually surveyed tech pros about the push-pull between employees, management and IT staff. For this year’s report (sign-in required), some 82 percent of tech pros said end users or teams had pushed back on either IT or management when “the company tried to dictate which collaboration tools should be used.” Compounding the issue, some 67 percent of end users or teams had introduced their own team collaboration tools into the organization—despite the massive security risks of introducing new software into the corporate technology stack without approval. Does this pushback actually succeed? Some 63 percent of respondents said that IT staff prevailed whenever employees pushed back—but that didn’t stop all employees from continuing to use their software of choice. Some 13 percent said that employees defied IT’s orders to stop using the software in question. In addition to the obvious security concerns, running unapproved software can also impact the interoperability of the products in a company’s tech stack. From a tech pro perspective, having to deal with defiant staffers and unknown platforms can have a significant impact on their productivity and efficiency—as if the IT department wasn’t already overloaded enough. And if all that wasn’t enough, there are also money concerns. “When employees incorporate technologies, like collaboration tools, outside the menu of options provided by the company, it makes it difficult for IT to keep accurate record of what tools employees are using and how often they are using them,” the report added. “This could be costly for the company as they could be overpaying for unused subscriptions.” These kinds of pushback situations underscore the need for soft skills. Unless they’re complete psychopaths, most employees don’t want their IT staff to wrestle with security breaches or incompatible stacks; when they’re loading unauthorized software onto their systems, they’re simply thinking about how they’ll get their work done more efficiently, or how they want the communications platform with the cool GIFs (Hi, Slack!). The key to “soft skills,” of course, is effective communication: tech pros such as sysadmins need to explain in a clear, friendly way why certain technology decisions are made, and the security impact of unauthorized software. Chances are good that, if you start a respectful discussion, employees will be a bit less likely to push back. And barring that, of course, a tech pro can always click over to the administration dashboard and restrict certain software from the system—but that’s not feasible in all circumstances. Open discussion, paired with listening to everyone’s concerns, is always a good first step in the face of pushback.