Recently my company hired a freelancer to take on some of the workload. While I wasn't there the freelancer has started to manage the entire project and messed up the original plan.

The other guy managing him was a little inexperienced and has let the freelancer basically become his manager. Freelancer is now starting to question the methods I am using, and is constantly banging on about how his previous companies did it another way. - a way I don't agree with. I was happy to explain why, but he refuses to listen. I have made the final decision however, it annoys me that he continues to think i'm wrong which makes me think there was a better way to handle it.

What are some better ways I could of handled this situation?

  • Who is running the team? Because if it's not you, then you will have to keep explaining yourself.
    – Aida Paul
    Commented Dec 14, 2019 at 13:24
  • 3
    No one is actually running the team. Ultimately myself and the front-end are in charge of how the project is run. Only the boss has ultimate say but he is non-technical. He thinks everyone on the team can be equal seniority, and have everything as an open discussion
    – flexi
    Commented Dec 14, 2019 at 13:30
  • 4
    This question is poorly titled The title does not describe sufficiently what the question is about.
    – Socrates
    Commented Dec 14, 2019 at 14:21
  • can you suggest a better one?
    – flexi
    Commented Dec 14, 2019 at 14:25
  • The details of lack of knowledge are unnecessary and confusing for non-engineers. Also, while trying to prove your superior knowledge, you didn't even give us enough information--there are many cases such as SSH keys where you typically want key-pairs per user, so your statement doesn't sound as outlandish as you think
    – Mars
    Commented Dec 15, 2019 at 4:11

5 Answers 5


You will need your boss to clarify with the entire team what the contractor’s role is so that folks have a general sense of what he can or cannot do.

Currently, you have certain expectations from him, and so did your front end guy... both of you could be right, or both of you are wrong, or somewhere in middle. Also, judging from your description, it looks like the contractor has certain expectations on what he’s supposed to do and it’s different from your expectations.

  • And whoever ends up responsible for the component becomes the manager. If the freelance thinks he can manage all the stuff, then his contract should cover liabilities and what happens when results do not meet expectation.
    – Nelson
    Commented Dec 16, 2019 at 6:11

Given that you are not the team leader/owner and do not have the capacity to make decisions then there is very little for you to do besides to explain your view and try to convince the contractor (or others) to your point of view. If you think what he does is more than a blunder, but an actual danger to the project, then document that and raise that with your boss, the person actually in charge.

As you are not running the team, you've voiced your concerns and should keep doing that and that's it. Focus on getting your work done with the rest of the now-free time, and if the contractor is as bad as you claim, soon enough the bad will seep through the cracks and boss will have to eat crow for ignoring your warnings.

On a side note maybe then the boss will realize that a tech team needs a technical lead, though that may not be you. And I say so as explaining stuff to your teammates should be something that a team lead cherishes, not looks like a waste of time and a chore. Similarily by the same part sometimes you just have to let a teammate go down the wrong hole to learn the hard way, but then also hold them accountable for that.

  • 1
    Just to be clear, I am happy explaining things. I just don't know how to manage someone when they don't understand it, and continue to think I'm wrong.
    – flexi
    Commented Dec 14, 2019 at 13:55
  • @flexi you don't manage him as you are not in a position to manage him. And if they don't understand why public keys can be public then clearly you did not explain the matter well enough to him. Keep trying.
    – Aida Paul
    Commented Dec 14, 2019 at 13:55
  • That's where there is some confusion. The boss has said the 2 of us devs are managing him, but the other dev let him take over while I wasn't there, and when I explain something he doesn't understand it.
    – flexi
    Commented Dec 14, 2019 at 13:57
  • 1
    @flexi per your comments "No one is actually running the team. Ultimately myself and the front-end are in charge of how the project is run. Only the boss has ultimate say but he is non-technical. He thinks everyone on the team can be equal seniority, and have everything as an open discussion ". You clearly want to manage him and just tell him "do XYZ" but alas that's not the way boss sees it. And as he did not empower you to manage the contractor, don't try to act like he did.
    – Aida Paul
    Commented Dec 14, 2019 at 13:58
  • 6
    @TymoteuszPaul If a contractor doesn't understand that public keys are supposed to be public then you don't explain it, you find a contractor who understands.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Dec 14, 2019 at 14:08

I’ve been in your shoes. Some contractors are like locusts; they enter a place, destroy the morale, and find another place. The best thing you can do is to talk to your boss about the potential clash of roles you play and how it will impact the work. You can talk about the repetition of work, which doesn’t serve the purpose of bringing him in. You may request your boss to define KRA to you and all others so that the contractor will know his place. You may also get a clue on how much your boss rates his work. Ideally, if a leader doesn’t lead the floor, KRAs must.


In the UK (and in other places) a contractor is not an employee. A contractor MUST NOT act like an employee or there can be legal / tax related problems for both company and contractor.

So in principle you can't tell a contractor how to do his job. You can make polite suggestions and tell him that if he doesn't listen to your suggestions you will cancel his contract and hire a different contractor :-) (which is effectively the same as giving an order to an employee, but not legally the same).

So what you can do is to make polite suggestions what you expect him to do, and tell him that you will have to find a different contractor if he doesn't follow your suggestions. That's one of the points of hiring a contractor: If you don't like him, you hire a different one. You don't have to be very polite. "I don't like the changes that you made whatsoever, so I suggest you undo them or we'll have to find another contractor" is absolutely polite enough.

  • good point. I am actually aware of the tax thing IR35. I am able to make the decisions and I have. My main issue is him questioning me in front of the boss, as I don't want the boss to doubt that I am building something incorrectly. At the same time I was trying to be polite and helpful but that has just made me look less assertive.
    – flexi
    Commented Dec 14, 2019 at 14:15

Your highest goal is the quality of the product and the avoidance of any issues that might cause your company lost revenue. In the long run that revenue is yours and your colleages' wages and perhaps even their jobs on the line. It's not about control, particularly as you do not have seniority here. Even if you did, the needs of the company you are working for and of the product you are creating are the most important. If this freelancer is wrong, you should be able to explain to your boss what the consequences of the technical decisions will be. Even, and perhaps particularly, a non-technical person should see that when you demonstrate a security hole or a lack of one that would require wasted time to 'plug' that it impacts the business. On the other hand if you can't demonstrate any of that, are you that sure of your position?

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .