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I have recently (in the last month or so) come under a lot of pressure from my supervisor, supposedly regarding the quality of my work. He said it hadn't been of the required standard ever since I joined the company (15 months ago), despite having never mentioned this previously, and despite the fact that I have completed and delivered several projects since I joined the company.

This pressure appeared to come 'out of the blue' a bit, as until a month or so ago, I had felt as though the work was going well, that I was making good progress, and getting on well with my supervisor...

However, since he first brought up his 'concerns' regarding the quality of my work, I have noticed that the amount of work I've had has significantly dropped.

When I was initially offered the job, it was on a fixed- term, 12-month contract (I was employed on a 6-month contract that had been extended by a couple of months with another employer when I was offered this job).

After I received the job offer, I negotiated with the company (my current employer) that I would take the position if they made the contract permanent, as I didn't see the point in leaving one monthly rolling contract for another fixed term contract.

They did make the offer a permanent contract, and I accepted the offer. I have now been in their employment for 15 months, as I mentioned previously, and the amount of work I have had has dropped significantly over the last month or so (which is I guess, why the job was not offered on a permanent contract initially).

It seems like the pressure that my supervisor is putting on me, is due to the fact that my company's next contract with the client that I'm currently based at is not due to start for another few months, and so my position is 'redundant' at the moment...

I have started applying for other jobs, and have/ had one or two other interviews, but the pressure I am under in my current position just seems to be increasing.

Obviously, I don't want to quit my current position, until I have another one to go to, so what is the best way to deal with this pressure while I look for another job?

EDIT

I should also say that the decreased workload tied in with/ came shortly after we delivered the latest version of the software to the client, i.e. development project completed- now on to minor maintenance tasks...

Further Edit

I have spoken to my supervisor regarding his concerns about my performance- it seems that the issues he highlighted are ones that are directly affected by my hidden/ unseen disability- which I had declared prior to starting work at the company, along with providing written medical evidence from my Occupational Therapist regarding 'reasonable adjustments' that could be made to support me with my disability. Having spoken to him, it seems he is unable to make those reasonable adjustments. Having said that, if the issues have always been a concern, why weren't they raised earlier, and not after 15 months?

EDIT

I also raised concerns I'd had regarding unwanted attention from another employee (which my supervisor was clearly aware of, but denies)- that employee has subsequently been let go (their contract was not renewed after it expired), and I think maybe the fact I'd told my supervisor I was considering taking formal action (raising it with HR) has also set him against me, as he denies that it was ever an issue...

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    Correlation does not imply causation. If you're not assigned to an active or full-time project then it's only logical that your workload will plummet. It's possible that they're trying to pressure you into quitting but you'd do well to consider whether you're misinterpreting valuable feedback and (constructive) criticism as "pressure". Your manager may be trying to get you to study up or otherwise improve your skills now that you have a lot of downtime. Or it could be that he wants to you to improve the quality of your work now that you have the time to do it slowly and carefully. – Lilienthal Oct 19 '15 at 11:11
  • I am completely willing to accept constructive criticism, but he hasn't given me much more work to get on with... I've had a bit of testing to do, now that the development has stopped, but tend to get through those tasks pretty quickly... – Noble-Surfer Oct 19 '15 at 11:52
  • Again, that could be normal for your company. I would take Dawny's advice and have a straight conversation about this with your manager. – Lilienthal Oct 19 '15 at 11:54
  • Related post for further info regarding final paragraph workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/55473/… – Myles Oct 19 '15 at 15:18
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    If your invisible disability is used as a lever, you might want to disclose some details. Things like diabetes, autism and frontal lobe damagement are all invisible but very different, and that might be quite relevant in your scenario – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen May 3 '16 at 8:59
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My impression is that your supervisor has been told to get rid of you, independent of the quality of your work, and that the complaints are made up without the purpose of getting rid of you.

So first, ignore any negative feelings when they complain about your work. There's nothing wrong with it. They know it, and you know it. So when the supervisor says "your work quality is much too low", what is actually meant is "I would like you to quit, so that the company doesn't have the cost related to laying you off".

There is no reason why you should do them the favour. You go to work, you collect your pay, if they complain you know what it really means so you can ignore that. There is no need to try to improve the quality of your work, because (a) there's nothing wrong with it, and (b) they want to get rid of you, no matter what you do.

In that position, you've done the right thing to look for work elsewhere (in your case both work and pay :-) ), so you can hand in your notice when you found it. And of course use any downtime to study to improve your skills.

  • I had a colleague on contract whose supervisor harrassed him and shouted at him for no fault of his. This guy made an audio recording of it and took it to the department head who simply said he shouldn't do such audio recordings. After another month, he submitted his resignation and HR didn't even ask him why he was resigning. My suspicion was that they just wanted to get rid of him. He was a good natured, hard working guy. Like the above answer, even I think he should have stayed and fought on, because now he's finding it very hard to find another job. – Anon Oct 19 '15 at 18:49
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    I believe (disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer) this sort of thing could be classed as "constructive dismissal" which is illegal in some countries - and the thing of them blaming a disability they never complained about before and could have but didn't accommodate strengthens the asker's hand there. Certainly, the asker should find out what the deal is with constructive dismissal in their country – user56reinstatemonica8 Oct 19 '15 at 21:11
  • That is the impression I get too, but although there's no reason I should do them the 'favour' of quitting, it is also not a pleasant thing to have to go through. My plan is to try and stick it out until I find other employment, but at the same time, it's very draining turning up to work every day, when it's clear you're not wanted there. I am considering quitting to take a holiday prior to starting my next job, but obviously, there's no guarantee on when I'll find the next one, which is why I haven't done yet (similar to Anon's comment) – Noble-Surfer Oct 20 '15 at 9:38
  • I need to give one month written notice to leave my current position- if I do get offered another job, I'll obviously state that I need to give one month notice prior to starting, but is it ok to try an negotiate a bit more time, in order to be able to have some 'down' time? Or generally is it best not to asked for a delayed start date when starting a new role? – Noble-Surfer Oct 20 '15 at 9:45
4

It seems like

Why make assumptions, when you can actually talk to your supervisor about the workload problems and maybe a performance review?

However, since he first brought up his 'concerns' regarding the quality of my work, I have noticed that the amount of work I've had has significantly dropped.

You boss might have reduced your workload, hoping that your inefficiency was due to the excessive workload. So, now, as you feel that you are feeling that you have less work than you wanted, you might want to meet him, and tell him about that, and also have a performance review.

I don't understand how you have translated your lack of work as putting pressure, but as far your question goes, you are unnecessarily making assumptions, when you can clear the air on that by having a chat with your boss.

  • Apologies- I should have said, and have just added it to my OP: the reduced amount of work I have had has tied in with the fact that we have just delivered the software to the client. When I say pressure, I mean that my boss has only mentioned being unhappy with the quality of my work, since the amount of work I've had has decreased- he didn't mention it previously, when I had more work on, and was completing/ delivering the tasks I was being assigned. – Noble-Surfer Oct 19 '15 at 11:00
  • Thank you for clarifying. But still, my suggestion remains valid. Please have a chat with him, on this issue and listen what he has to say. – Dawny33 Oct 19 '15 at 11:03
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    @someone2088 That comment is a lot of important detail not in the question. – paparazzo Oct 19 '15 at 12:24
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    @Dawny33: Your advice "look for a new job". Absolutely. Your advice "quit there ASAP". No way in hell. That's what they want, that's why the boss is being a jerk, so you stay glued to your desk until you are fired. – gnasher729 Oct 19 '15 at 21:58
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    @someone2088: In most locations it's a lot better for you if you are laid off then leaving. For example, unemployment payment. And if the new employer asks why you were laid off, telling them that a big client contract ended and you had very little to do in the last months, that would be fine. Especially if this wasn't a permanent contract in the first place. – gnasher729 Oct 20 '15 at 15:27
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It sounds like they were under a time crunch when hiring you, so offered a permanent contract (maybe you pressured them into it a bit? ;-) hoping that they would be able to cut you once the work slows down. Which is what they are trying to do now. It seems like a case of bending the stick too much, so now the stick is trying to bounce back.

One thing to consider is, even if you succeed in keeping the position in this project delivery cycle, is the same situation likely to repeat itself in the future after delivering other projects? Do you want to fight efforts to cut you again and again in the future?

Rather than holding on to a permanent contract that wasn't supposed to be, it may be wise to look for another, full-time job with a "truly" permanent contract.

To second @Dawny33, I would also encourage you to speak with the manager about the following:

  • (a) constructive feedback on where your performance suffers and specific steps you can take to improve it -- his response should indicate to you if he totally made it up or there is a grain of truth to it;
  • (b) what he considers your strengths and in what types of positions/roles he believes you would succeed; and
  • (c) whether in his honest opinion there is any way for you to have a longer-term future with this employer. If the answer is "no", agree on a phasing-out timeframe, wrap-up tasks you would do in the meantime (documentation etc.) and do your best to find a job in the meantime.

Before you raise issue (c) above, from your side:

  • (a) provide a list of wrap-up/transition tasks you believe you are well positioned to perform for the current project that would add value to client and/or the company;
  • (b) in advance try to find out some details about the next upcoming project, and provide a list of ramp-up tasks you could engage in to hit the ground running once that project gets under way, so that you could be more productive in your work and add more value to the client.
  • (c) check with HR about the situation, and what you would get in terms of severance in a situation if the employer breaks your "permanent" contract (what are the stipulations around firing or laying you off).

The thing is, if they are bent on getting rid of you, they will find a way. The important thing is what lessons you can derive from the situation that will make you more competent employee in the future and better prepare you to address a similar situation if it arises again in the future. Good luck!

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    Thanks for your answer- I guess it's along the lines of what I was thinking. When they offered me the fixed term contract initially, I was already doing some contract work at another company, so I replied and said that I would be more likely to accept the offer if they were to make the contract permanent- so I guess you could say I 'pressured' them into it... but that certainly wasn't how I approached it- from my perspective, it was just negotiation. Though I guess as you say, given the pressure they were under in terms of the work at the time, they possibly felt they had to go for it... – Noble-Surfer Oct 19 '15 at 13:33
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    Regarding the points you said to speak with my manager about: a) I have asked for this, and the feedback was quite generic- things like "code quality is not good enough", which it clearly is, as I have implemented new features and fixed bugs in the software which are now working as required. He did say that I've required more support than I should- but this was something I'd told them I'd need due to my disability, the fact is they haven't given the 'type' of support recommended, just what they feel they 'can' give. I am approaching the situation in terms of 'what can I learn from this?'... – Noble-Surfer Oct 19 '15 at 13:37
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    That's why I'm asking the question on here too- trying to gather as much information/ as many recommendations about what to do as I can, so that I will have considered all of the options, and can learn what to do in future similar situations... – Noble-Surfer Oct 19 '15 at 13:44
  • Thanks for follow-up, makes sense. With regard to disability, I am wondering if the mgmt's decision is somewhat motivated by unwillingness to continue to accommodate your special needs? If that is the case, you could have a bargaining chip in terms of employer obligation (at least in US) to provide reasonable accommodation. If you feel that could be the case, that might be something worth additional research: make sure that their decision is not in any way based on your disability status, which is illegal. Note: HR will likely side w. mgmt and likely deny/dismiss any arguments to this effect. – A.S Oct 19 '15 at 14:45
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    I also raised concerns I'd had regarding unwanted attention from another employee (which my supervisor was clearly aware of, but denies)- that employee has subsequently been let go (their contract was not renewed after it expired), and I think maybe the fact I'd told my supervisor I was considering taking formal action (raising it with HR) has also set him against me, as he denies that it was ever an issue... – Noble-Surfer Oct 19 '15 at 15:22
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Ok, to sum up (from question and comments):

  1. You were offered a temporary contract specifically for this project. You said that you'd be more comfortable leaving your former position if they offered a permeant position, so they did.

  2. There was an issue with a harassment complaint that wasn't taken seriously, with your boss unhappy about you saying you were planning to raise a formal complaint with HR. (When the offending party's contract was up, it was not renewed.)

  3. Now that the project that the temporary-contract would have been for is done, you are getting vague complaints about your "performance" from your boss, but he is not giving you any feedback on how you might address them. Further, these complaints are things they knew about when they hired you, due to a hidden disability disclosure.

My advice: trust your instincts, and start looking for another job. Don't quit, but also don't put any energy into trying to salvage this job: instead, put that energy into finding a better one. There are healthier places to work out there.

(My bias: I've let myself stay in bad situations for too long for fear of falling prey to 'grass is always greener on the other side of the fence' syndrome -- but sometimes, the grass really is greener elsewhere.)

And the best way to deal with the pressure in the meanwhile? I can't give any better advice than 'try to detach yourself from it.' It's very easy to wrap our identity and self-worth up into our current role -- it's human nature. And we want what we spend most of the day working on to matter (both to ourselves, and to the wider world). But, to the best that you are able, detaching emotionally and mentally from this job is the best way to save your sanity.

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    Thanks for the advice. I guess 'detaching myself from it' is what I've been doing to some extent- or maybe it's better to say that I never got attached to it in the first place... I am very much a 'work to live' person rather than 'live to work', so I'm not beating myself up about this role going off the rails, I'm just trying to learn from the experience, ready for my next role. At then end of the day, I think it's good to work, and it's good to be good at your work, but work is not the only important thing in life.. – Noble-Surfer Oct 21 '15 at 8:19
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I would ask for specifics personally. Being charged with doing low quality work would be awful for me and I would want to know as soon as humanly possible what the issue(s) is/are so that 1. I can work to correct them. 2. Not take them to the next job. It could be the scapegoat that the company is looking to reduce a headcount because the next contract is smaller or too far away.

There is the possibility that you are in some sort of rut and you just don't know it. You may think you're doing just fine, but to the outside observer your work quality is bad. You may not be able to just get another job and be fine. Could be stress, passion for the field diminished, being repetitive or anything.

I think the best thing is to get your head around what exactly do they mean by low quality work. Ask for specifics or a formal review. The company has invested in you, training benefits etc. Additionally you were able to negotiate into something you wanted so they had to have liked your credentials and experience at some point.

  • Apologies- I should have said, and have just added it to my OP: the reduced amount of work I have had has tied in with the fact that we have just delivered the software to the client. When I asked why my boss hadn't brought up the quality of my work sooner, he said that he'd tried to support me, but never actually gave a reason for not highlighting that he wasn't happy with my performance... – Noble-Surfer Oct 19 '15 at 11:04
  • I'll let my answer ride, but you're going to have to pin these people down for an answer. All of this dancing around the issue and excuses isn't going to fix a problem, if one even exists. You're probably doing the right thing looking for a new job it does not sound like your current employer is being honest with you, but that's an assumption. – Bmo Oct 19 '15 at 11:14
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    I guess that's the thing, I get the impression that's there's a lack of honesty on his part, having spoken to him, but obviously, I can't assume that. I'm just not sure what I can/ should do on my part... The specifics they gave when I asked were that the number of bugs I had fixed was too low, and the length of time I take to fix a bug was too long... but these are pretty generic reasons, as depending on the bug complexity, it could take a longer/ shorter amount of time, and with each one being so different, the number I'll get through will depend on the complexity of each one... – Noble-Surfer Oct 19 '15 at 11:56
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If you feel that way, regardless of reality, then you must work towards a new goal. What I would recommend you to do is use this time to earn any additional training or certificates related to your job. This way, you can go out with a "bang" so to speak and go out the gate with all you need to get a better/improved position. I wouldn't just quit without having a safety net of some sort.

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Having a disability which was declared at the job application / interview stage and you were engaged in employment with that company does not constitute grounds for dismissal. Depending on the workplace legislation in your country / state you cannot be dismissed without just cause and even then your employer may be required to satisfy certain conditions before they can dismiss you for reasons other than gross misconduct.

Pressuring employees to resign is a common tactic so that the employer doesn't have to face potential unfair dismissal claims. As has been previously commented, stay in your job, do your work to the best of your ability. If it was me I'd be looking around for a new employer. A happy workplace brings out the best in the people in it and my advice for what it's worth is to find employment where you feel valued and happy. Good luck with your future. :)

  • Hello Alan, welcome to the workplace. I think your answer got a downvote because someone thinks it does not add much to all the other answers that are already present with this 3 year old question. The idea on SE sites is to not repeat answers. – Jan Doggen Sep 17 '18 at 7:40

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