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I am working in an IT company as a software developer. I work on several projects and my TL is the one who takes the client calls and reports to the manager.

The problem is this guy doesn't asks many questions during my office time. I always complete my tasks on time. Whenever I take leave, he keeps on calling me and annoying me about the project work.

Yesterday my uncle passed away; and still he called me and asked me about a task which I have completed the day before. He didn't even offer condolences. I got angry and just hung up the call.

This guy doesn't engage personally with anyone in the office. He is kind of irritating for me. Although he is very knowledgeable about programming and all, he doesn't know how to behave socially (he complains to the manager when a problem occurs).

How can I handle such a person?

  • 94
    Is it part of your contract to be reachable outside of work hours on your personal phone, are you compensated for that? If not, don't answer your phone or (if needed) turn it off. – Dirk Sep 18 at 6:34
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    @Dirk Usually when you're on leave you are not expected to be reachable. (Because you may be holidaying etc.) – Gregory Currie Sep 18 at 6:36
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    Are you a contractor, or an employee? – Gregory Currie Sep 18 at 6:38
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    How do you keep track of your tasks? Is there such a thing as a ticketing system where he can check on the status himself? – AsheraH Sep 18 at 10:44
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    @jwenting To an extent. Sure, it may be vital, but that doesn't mean a single person has to wear the burden for 100% of the time. – Gregory Currie Sep 19 at 5:51
203

The simplest way is just don't answer his calls when you're on leave. If something really important comes up he can email.

I don't answer calls from anyone whose number I don't recognise or don't want to talk to.

  • 5
    Agree, just don't answer his calls - if he did not get an update when you were at work then it can wait until you get back. – Solar Mike Sep 18 at 7:58
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    I'd rather tell my manager to write a mail for low-priority stuff and only call for emergencies. (and if he calls without an emergency, I'd stop taking calls completely). Relying on mails for time critical problems doesn't work. – FooTheBar Sep 18 at 8:30
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    @FooBar I'd rather just not answer my phone and let them work it out for themselves, they get paid more than me, not my job to organise their stuff for them – Kilisi Sep 18 at 8:32
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    @Kilisi I'd say the best approach depends a bit on the implicit give-and-take regulation in place. I.e. if I can easily leave during working hours to do some personal stuff once in a while or work from home when I want (in a reasonable way), then I'm fine with emergency calls during my time off (which should happen rarely as FooBar already indicates) or for lower prio things messages. If the company however is strict on the rules, then it's just fair to do the same. I upvoted, as in the case of OP this seems a fair response to a misuse of his availability, in general would say it depends. – Frank Hopkins Sep 18 at 11:25
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    One way to handle emergency calls is to not answer the phone, but check voicemail as soon as convenient after each missed call. If the caller leaves a message describing something you consider to be an emergency, return the call or take other appropriate action. That keeps the decision where it belongs outside working hours. – Patricia Shanahan Sep 18 at 13:18
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Calling you on the day of your uncle's funeral was egregious, whether he knew of it or not. As such, it can be used to drive the point home.

You don’t say if you have already discussed his calling on your off-days or not. In either case, now is the time for a serious conversation.

Something like:

I don't work on my off-days, so, obviously the status of my projects does not change. If you want to know the status, please ask either before I leave, or after I return.

Your calls disturb my private life, and, although you were not to know it (**), it was the day of my uncle’s funeral. I hope that you can see how disturbing that was.

Given that you can never know what I am doing on my days off, you can never know what you might be disturbing, but I fill those with family and friends, and even a short phone call can disturb my private time.

My days off are my time. I don’t work on those days. In the future I will not be answer my phone for calls from work numbers(*) on my off days, nor will I be looking at work email. In the future, please don’t call me on my days off.

Unless he is totally lacking in social skills/empathy, the calls ought to stop.

If not, you have three choices:

  1. Polish your CV (which seems a bit drastic).
  2. Talk to his boss.
  3. Get into the habit of making the last thing you do before leaving for time off be emailing him a status report.

(*) Unless I am paid to be on call I never give my ‘phone number to anyone from work. It’s too late now, but you might want to keep this in mind for the future.
(**) was he aware that you have a day off for your uncle’s funeral?

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    My manager has my mobile phone numbers for emergencies. He also knows the meaning of the word “emergency”. – gnasher729 Sep 18 at 10:01
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    Unlike the OP's team lead, apparently – Mawg Sep 18 at 10:15
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    @DonFusili Let me rephrase that: in my experience, having your phone number on your resume is functionally mandatory if you want to get hired, in order to facilitate the hiring process (e.g. phone interviews, or arranging interviews). Anything that might make the process a little bit harder for them gets your resume thrown in the bin. – nick012000 Sep 18 at 15:46
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    In *cough* decades of software development, my employer has never had my number – Mawg Sep 18 at 16:13
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    @Mawg For the last few years, I've been working in a small team as the only software developer. Everyone has my number, and I've got theirs. And we're all smart enough not to call out of hours or on days off, unless things are really hitting the fan and we genuinely can't do without. It's a trust thing. The OP's problem comes down to his team lead violating that trust. – Graham Sep 19 at 10:19
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I would go a different approach. Of course you don't want to be bothered in your off time, but not answering the phone or telling him to stop calling you doesn't solve the underlying problem: Your team manager propably has no idea of what you are doing.

Of course he could ask, but he is propably busy, maybe overloaded so he doesn't have the time for that and he calls you when he needs an info right now.

I would sit down with him and talk about ways to solve the problem. He wants to know what's going on and you don't want to be bothered. So maybe a new system helps (ticket system, Kanban board, there are plenty of solutions)

This way, you are no aggressive about the problem but solution oriented and can maybe enhance your working experience for both of you.

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    I completely agree, but proposing a bunch of alternative ideas won't get very far if OP keeps answering the phone to work during time off. It enables the problem and gives leadership no incentive to change. If a team lead or manager is unable to get the information they need because they can't reach somebody who is out on bereavement, then it paves the way to "how can we proactively communicate status to avoid this from happening again?" Solution: Scrum/Kanban board, project management tools, email, etc. – Brandon Sep 18 at 20:34
  • Yes I agree. All these long and complicated and potentially antagonistic (to the recipient) approaches all beg the question 'Have you talked to the person?'. When folks don't do that they build up an overly complicated situation and often start characterizing folks, assigning other and unjustified things. This is human. I do it it. Some folks are socially unaware. Some have no family. Some love work so much they they think they are respecting you by calling you. People are really different, don't assume. He might even be horrified to hear it bugs you but not unless u have a little chat – Michael Durrant Sep 19 at 0:01
  • don't unload everything in that chat. Start with smile and simple request and if that is received well. you are done. Don't anticipate resistance or feel you must explain all the reasons. or any of them. – Michael Durrant Sep 19 at 0:03
  • My manager has all these tools but still chooses to ask us. – WendyG Sep 19 at 11:14
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I've been in IT for > 20 years and also spent many years oncall so I understand your pain.

A few recommendations:

  • If you're expected to be reachable out of hours then its reasonable to ask for a work phone and to charge OT
  • If not then I'd consider changing my mobile number and if giving it out then only to your manager and only answer calls from them
  • If you're disciplined in updating your work tickets then I'd recommend sitting down with your TL and showing them how simple it is to see your status updates for themselves
  • If your TL is lacking social skills (which it sounds like from your descriptions) then it might be worth keeping a record of any serious breaches and discussing them with your Manager. Good technical competence doesn't necessarily mean good leadership skills
  • Lastly don't be afraid to set and enforce boundaries. Work can take over your life if you let it.

Good luck, I really hope you find a workable solution soon.

4

How about simply preempting his call by sending an email with all updates before you leave. Then if he calls, you end or ignore it and then text back saying work updates were sent in an email.

Maybe also explicitly state no other updates can be made while on leave since... you aren't working during leave and no progress can be made by you while you are on leave.

3

Don't answer any calls outside work time and tell your manager you will not be reachable during your leave. Make an appointment in the last day before you leave and discuss all updates. You have to provide all details your manager needs before you leave, so he/she won't disturb you.

PS it seems like your manager is very busy or not very professional. It is not good to disturb employers outside the work. Anyway don't be rude and try to "help" by providing all information needed before you leave.

1

You need to highlight your specific concern, and that is when you've taken leave, your TL is still contacting you.

What is irrelevant to this issue:

  • You completing or not completing your work on time
  • You getting angry
  • Your TL not discussing his personal life
  • Him not offering condolences
  • Him being an idiot
  • Him perceived to be lacking social skills

The first step is to highlight to him how his behaviour does not meet your expectations and how you would like the behaviour to change.

If that doesn't work, the next step is to complain to HR, or his boss, about the behaviour.

If that doesn't work, you may have to explore more drastic actions like changing your phone number, blocking the calls, or getting a new job.

  • 1
    "Him being an idiot" seems to be very relevant - if he was not, then this would not be happening... – Solar Mike Sep 18 at 7:58
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    @SolarMike That's a very bold claim, but wrong. Smart people do the wrong thing all the time. Fortunately, we don't have to assess the intelligence of people, and instead can address the behaviour itself. – Gregory Currie Sep 18 at 8:15
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@Kilisi , @Mawg et.al have given very good answers.

Additionally what you could do is to bill them for the call, but make sure to drive the point that you are expecting a higher compensation for being disturbed with work related calls during your holidays.

The company will probably not like to pay the compensation because that will set a precedent that will allow other employees to ask for same kinds of compensation too.

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