I work as a software engineer on contract basis for a big IT company in London. Couple of months back our team manager got changed. Our new manager is very rude and impolite. Her reputation as being obnoxious is well known within the company and I don't know why the higher management doesn't do anything out it.

Anyways, she seems to be particularly harsh toward me. I don't want to leave the job as of now so I want some advice about how to deal with her.

It appears to me as if she treats us like students and she being headmaster, punishing us for every small mistake we make. I may ask for a team change but being a contractor I don't think they would consider it.

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    Your a contractor - just leave, that's the whole point of being one IMHO! – Dan Aug 18 '14 at 11:01
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    in what way does she "punish" you? – Brandin Aug 18 '14 at 11:05
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    @Brandin, Those two things are separate. My point was even a one 2 one with her is horrifying. She acts very dominating and aggressive. I plan to confront her regarding this but I just can't reply with her boldness and firmness. Also, I am on a work visa and I need to keep myself employed for that purpose. Sometimes I think of quitting but the money I get is good and get into the vicious cycle. I am looking for a new job but it might take a while. As the money is good, I am wondering if there is any other way around or if talking to her regarding this would help in any way. – polpts Aug 18 '14 at 11:22
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    @Brandin, I think assigning me unreasonable amount of work is part of personality. I someone's personality definitely affects the professional life in a way... Can you please elaborate what should I do? – polpts Aug 18 '14 at 11:38
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    Getting an unreasonable amount of work assigned seems a common problem and it has been discussed before. For that particular case I would check the existing threads on the topic (boss assigned too much work etc). For other cases handle them the same way - professionally and take the "personality" and the exact way she is talking out of the equation. Concentrate on the what rather than the how. – Brandin Aug 18 '14 at 11:46

Others have suggested ways of preparing a unified confrontation with this person. That may, or may not, improve your workplace.

I suggest doing something on a more personal level. Keep in mind that this is business. I would say it's "just business," but it's also your working life so it isn't "just" anything. But dealing with difficult clients is a highly valuable soft skill for contractors.

(I don't know why people call it a soft skill. It's hard! :-)

When you receive anger or anxiety from her, reflect it back, but mildly. Don't be defensive.

For example, suppose she says "What's the matter with you? Why didn't you finish that TPS report by noon? Are you stupid or something?"

You can reply, "Thanks for the feedback. I'd like to do my best to make your job easier. I was working on the ABC account earlier today, and I will do the TPS report now. Is there anything special I should know about it?"

The point is to always make a reference to helping this manager succeed. Don't say "you know I want to make your job easier," because she will hear that as "you are supposed to know I want to make your job easier, but you don't."

You can even say "It seems like you're concerned that the department's work is not going well. What can I do to help improve it?"

Doing this is hard. But the mindset you need is to remember that none of this angry / anxious behavior is about you personally. This particular manager doesn't have the soft skill to take her personal anxiety about her job and her team and use it constructively. You, as a consultant / contractor, can help her learn to do that. The first step for you is to teach her you're working to make her successful.

Now, this may not work with this person. Or it only may work very slowly indeed. People don't change in the blink of an eye. In the meantime, do your best. When you can't stand it any more, complete your contracting engagement and move to the next one.

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If you have any other connections to the business, I would bring this up with them immediately. You should be able to get into contact with her boss and discuss your concerns. Being bullied in the workplace is no way to go.

It would also behoove you to start making a point to communicate by email whenever possible and archiving 'over the line' conversations to a flash drive because these things often boil down to your word against hers. Getting your workmates together to corroborate on these issues would also help. Depending on the laws in London and workplace rules you also may want to try and record your interactions. There are some places where recording is illegal without consent of all parties.

There's a chance she was moved because she acted this way with another team and instead of firing her they gave her new people.

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Someone in your company is managing this contract and may not be aware that this manager is driving your developers away. This is probably hindering the project and at least making someone's job more difficult by having to find replacements.

Have a conversation or let someone in your company know this is the reason. They can choose to work within the relationships they've developed to land this contract and know whether or not they should or could do anything about it.

If you try to work this out on your own, you may find yourself in trouble with the account manager within your company. They may not see your complaints as valid. Some people may think of you as a hired-gun and should just to what your're told because that's what you get paid for. Ever notice they didn't install a Foosball table for your team?

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It's unfortunate.

You have some networking to do.

  1. You could contact on your former manager, and assuming that your former manager was promoted upwards or moved laterally, ask them for their assistance and backing to move to another position within the company.

  2. If your former manager is not in a position to help directly, ask your former manager to recommend personnel who could help you move to another position within the company and to explicitly put in a good word with this personnel on your behalf. This personnel might include your former manager's manager at the time.

  3. If your manager is asking from each member of your team for unreasonable output and setting unreasonable deadlines and milestones for this output, she is setting herself up for failure, for which she will no doubt blame everyone of you. She is going down. Make sure that she is not taking you down with her. Collect references from anyone but theirs. Apply for suitable openings wherever you can.

Do some investigative research.

  1. Find out how she ended up on your team. Your former manager and if you have a good relationship with your manager's manager, might be your best sources of information. The reasons and circumstances she got in may very well be the reasons and circumstances she will be made to resign. For example, if she was given the management of the team as a last chance to prove herself in the organization, she will eventually be made to leve the company because she blew that last chance.

Take unified action.

  1. Have a team submit a unified petition to your manager's manager, with the complaint that her aggressive milestones and deadlines as well as the scope of her demands are setting the whole team up for failure. Note to your manager's manager that she has failed to provide any kind of logistical support to achieve these milestones and deadlines including allocating more human resources, and working out more achievable priorities on key tasks and more flexible deadlines on the less key tasks. Ask at the minimum that she makes an effort to work with you on what can be done instead of dictating the impossible to you.

  2. As a team, keep the lines of communication with your manager's management open. If she knows that everything she says and does gets re-transmitted at least one level up, she may cramp her style. If she doesn't, she may be on an accelerated path out of the company.

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