I am working as a contractor and a dev team lead for a US-based organization.

One of the project that we are developing is a highly visible project. Hence many other departments have daily meetings and I am representing my department. We all have come across a problem with the current process of defect management across different departments. A group which is coordinating all the groups arranged a meeting to discuss the issue and find amicable solution to all. Below are the series of events:

  1. In the meeting we have identified specific approach and agreed to try that approach how it works. Hence team identified some action items and some people are assigned to work on those action items.
  2. The next day we all have received a Email from a person named Sam with a new process that has specific steps to follow in order to adhere to the new process. I had some questions and confusion about the new process, and I replied to Sam by requesting further clarifications.
  3. I waited for a day and I didn’t received any clarification. Hence I have replied the Email thread by saying this

“We met the day before yesterday and agreed to try specific approach and find action items. I have got information that action items are completed. Regarding below Email I need some clarifications. Hence we would follow old approach since we got necessary clarifications from the new approach suggested and reach agreement”

  1. I got reply from a person let us name Tilak. Tilak says

    “No we are not in agreement. Please follow steps specified by SAM”

  2. Then I PMed the Coordination department and asked

    “I just saw the mail from Tilak. Have I missed any meeting? Where did this new process come from suddenly, that we haven’t even discussed?”.

    The PM replied

    “If it is painful just reply saying that and push back” .

  3. Then I replied to all by referring to my project manager who is in the mail thread:

    “Dear PM, This process suggested by Sam is painful for us. It is not acceptable to us. Can you help to bring amicable solution for both”

  4. Then I went to our daily scrum and discussed the issue and every one felt that it should be escalated to our department Director level.

  5. When I came back from meeting I saw reply from Tilak saying

    “ If is not acceptable, escalate to your higher management”

  6. Immediately I did escalate to Director of my department.

Later I realize Tilak is director and Sam is senior manager from other side. After the above incident i suddenly felt I have crossed my boundaries and felt some strange looks and treatment from some of my colleagues.

I felt that I might have disturbed the friendly work environment and I have suddenly attracted everyone's attention in a negative way. Being a contractor, this situation might cause political problems for me in the future.

How can I take corrective steps to avoid political risks and hazards in the future?

closed as off-topic by Jim G., Dawny33, The Wandering Dev Manager, Lilienthal, Joel Etherton Dec 7 '15 at 16:20

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions asking for advice on what to do are not practical answerable questions (e.g. "what job should I take?", or "what skills should I learn?"). Questions should get answers explaining why and how to make a decision, not advice on what to do. For more information, click here." – Jim G., Dawny33, The Wandering Dev Manager, Joel Etherton
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  • @JoeStrazzere, Tilak is Director of other team – Babu Dec 7 '15 at 2:10
  • Babu, it sounds to me like your director, Tilak, has told you exactly what you need to do: follow the steps from Sam's email. How to avoid this in the future: pay attention to your organizational hierarchy so that you know exactly who is sending emails before you respond. If you have a problem with what your manager is saying, speak directly with them. – NotMe Dec 7 '15 at 19:09
  • @NotMe, Tilak is not our director. He is director of other department. Sam reports to him. Not me and any one of my manager. And by following exactly what SAM says will cause lot of trouble to our department – Babu Dec 8 '15 at 2:54
  • @Babu: Then I'm really failing to see the problem. Talk to your director. Next time, talk to your director if the other side goes back on what you thought was agreed to. You're a contractor, your job is to escalate to your management, not to get into petty arguments. – NotMe Dec 8 '15 at 17:25

YOU GOT PLAYED. I know caps is shouting but YOU GOT PLAYED. Consider yourself lucky to still have a job. Lay low and think 3 times and research before you challenge any new approach. A contractor (or even an employee) should never user the phrase "It is not acceptable to us".

  • I think my answer haven't taken a lot of points into consideration. I guess he has indeed crossed the limit – Dawny33 Dec 7 '15 at 2:36
  • 1
    @JoeStrazzere Really? Told to escalate when the input was from the person it would escalate to. – paparazzo Dec 7 '15 at 9:43
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    @Frisbee: That doesn't say "played" to me. To me that indicates the Director doesn't know who is in his chain of responsibility. Add that to the sudden change in procedure without clearly defined instructions (or clarifications) my bet would be an organizational incompetence at the management level. – Joel Etherton Dec 7 '15 at 16:19
  • @JoelEtherton OK is does not say played to you – paparazzo Dec 7 '15 at 16:21

Well, to me, this depends greatly on your actual situation:

Are you a contractor, or a contract employee?

  • Contractor: You agreed to do a project for a fixed cost. You may bring your own staff in to assist. You provide your own resources in doing this project.

  • Contract Employee: You are working at the direction of an executive of this company, using their resources, usually on a per-hour rate. You are not a permanent employee

Correct response for contractor: "I have been given the project requirements by {Your Contract Manager}, and that is what we've agreed to do. If this is not acceptable, please contact {Your Contract Manager} ASAP and ask them to let me know if we need to do a change order. I will forward this communication to them, as well." Say nothing more.

Correct response for contract employee: "Thank you for bringing this to our attention. I will bring this to {Your Project Manager}'s attention, immediately, and ask them to contact you. As I work at their direction, I will need this instruction to come from {Your Project Manager} before I can make any changes. I appreciate you mentioning this to us so early in the process." Say nothing more.


You have painted yourself into a corner, but it's not something you need to face alone. Go talk to your superiors and explain WHY it is unacceptable and ask them how to deal with it. It's their job to protect their staff and make sure your team is working well. It's also their job to interact with others at that level.

In future though, it's best to know exactly who you are interacting with. I'm surprised they didn't have an email footer with the position on it. But in any case thats a future heads up.

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