Classic Contractor Mistake – And Now He’s an Outcast at Work

Classic Contractor Mistake
Classic Contractor Mistake

Classic Contractor Mistake

A reader seeks our advice after making a classic contractor mistake.

Hi Gerry.

I’m currently in a fixed term contract working as a software developer.

I’ve had two extensions on what was a 6 month contract so I am capable of doing the job.

The thing is, over the last couple of months the environment I am working in has become a little toxic.

I dared to tell the development leader that he was wrong and he doesn’t like being told he is wrong.

His initial response was to try to belittle me in front of all the rest of the team (who seem to be afraid of him and follow his every word like lost sheep).

Excluded from Tea Breaks

Since I told him that he was wrong he excludes me from tea breaks (although the rest of the team ask me if I would like to join them), and excludes me from team events.

There seems to be emails passed around that I am not included in and a humorous conversation will ensue – which I cannot get involved in as I have not been included in.

There is another contractor on the team and I don’t feel like he is treating him in the same way as I am.

I have 5 months left of my extension but I cannot go on for that length of time the bullying and excludion.

I just wondered if you could give some advice and how I approach the subject.

Because I am on a fixed term contract I cannot just hand my notice in.

I really enjoyed working here until recently but the toxic atmosphere is starting to get to me. Thanks in advance Julian

IT Contractor Advice

You made one of the two classic mistakes that contractors make.

The first one is to tell the ‘boss’ that he is doing things wrong. The second is to involve yourelf in office politics. You have to remember that this is not a boss / worker relationship you are in.

This is a customer / supplier arrangement – and he is your customer.

Remember the expression ‘the customer is king’.

How true that is.

You’ve upset your customer.

Contract Extended

They extended you twice, so, as you say, you must be doing a good job.

Once contractors have been at site for a while they get tempted to get involved in office politics – and they get tempted to tell the ‘boss’ who is really the customer, where he is going wrong.

Contractors often have more experience than the permanent staff.

They see how other places do things.

The trick is to let them know how other places do things.

However, if they don’t take up the suggestion the contractor should let it go.

So, that’s where you are.

What Can Contractor Do About it

So, what can you do about it?

Well, the best way is to repair the relationship as best you can.

As, you say, you previously enjoyed your time there till you decided that you needed to bring your customer down a peg or two.

What I would do is to have a one to one meeting with him.

I would try and make it a lunch appointment, i.e. take him out to lunch at your expense.

That would be best.

However, if he won’t come, ask for a meeting at a room in work.

Made a Classic Contractor Mistake

At lunch or in the room say that you made a mistake when you told him that he was wrong and that you’d like to apologize.

You can also say that you have experience of how other places do things and would be happy to pass that information on, if he wants.

Say that, if he is interested in knowing how they do things in other places, you would be happy to tell him.

Say, though, that if he decides to do it another way that this is fine by you.

Classic Contractor Mistake a contractor made
Classic Contractor Mistake a contractor made

It is his choice.

Doing Further Business

As I say, he is your customer and if you want to do further business with him you need to make him happy and keep him happy.

The best situation would be if he was able to come to you to ask your advice every so often.

You have to get back to that – or endure 5 months of being an outcast.

You made a classic contractor mistake when dealing with clients.

By the way if you really want to leave I doubt if they would stop you.

You could tell the powers that be that things have broken down between you and the Project Manager and it would be better if you went.

They won’t keep you.

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