4

I'm part of a small team (<10) that's only been together for 6 months. Most of the relationships within the team are very good, but we have a contractor who very blatantly spends in the region of half his day browsing the internet - reading Facebook, forums related to his hobby and browsing gadget and tech reviews. He often turns up after our daily standup (10am). The only person that doesn't appear to be aware of this is his manager.

I, and others that have commented on his work ethic, would be happy to see him either working at 100% (he can do good work, but chooses not to) or removed from the team. Knowing he's being paid 200% to do 50% is proving very demotivating for everyone else. I'm going to try dropping some hints ("If you're short of something to do,..." etc.), but I think it will need someone with more authority to make a difference.

One detail to be aware of is that the manager received an 18 month driving ban about a week before the contractor's initial 3 month period ended. The contractor was renewed for 12 months. They both live about an hour from the office, but only 5 minutes apart.

I have reservations about the manager too, for other reasons. He's very chaotic and despite doing plenty of hours, his actual presence and availability is very intermittent. When asked why he's just signed a P.O. for a new build server nobody was asking for, the reply was "because the money needed spending" rather than "to make the builds faster". It cost £12k.

What would be an effective way of improving the situation? I know a couple of people are already seriously considering leaving the team.

  • 4
    FWIW "because the money needed spending" is a fairly common reason to buy stuff towards year-end in larger firms. If you don't spend your budget this year, you'll get less to spend next year. And pray tell what happens when you really need the money then. – Denis de Bernardy Dec 13 '15 at 17:21
  • 1
    In this instance, there's better ways of spending it. – Anonymous Coward Dec 13 '15 at 19:53
6

Contractor not performing: first make sure he isn't wsiting for compiles/tests or otherwise blocked, in which case killing time may (or may not) be justified. Also, be aware that some folks do their best work in "background processing" -- if his productivity is bad that's a problem, but if he's delivering value for pay how he gets there doesn't matter. (I have found that I work best if I allow myself a bit of slack rather than staring at the code 100% of the time.)

Then, after you're sure there really is something that needs to be addressed, take that to the manager who has the power to cancel the contract and thus the authority to demand productivity.

Managing this guy is the manager's job, not yours, unless you are explicitly instructed to handle it.

  • 5
    +1 : is he delivering? That's the first question to ask. I've known people you'de never see work, but who would deliver much more than other team members. – gazzz0x2z Dec 13 '15 at 16:45
  • It should be somebody else's job, but it's not getting any attention (and there's the conflict of interests over the lift to/from work). It's very demotivating for everybody else. He's not waiting for anything/anybody - he just has a very short attention span. When he does do work, it's often introduced in a disruptive way ("Oh yeh, I changed a bunch of other stuff too. Maybe I should have mentioned it earlier"). – Anonymous Coward Dec 13 '15 at 20:00
  • 1
    Management's problem. Tell them what you've told us. You have no other leverage. – keshlam Dec 14 '15 at 5:36
  • 2
    When I started reading this, I thought it was talking about me. I'm doing a lot of automation. Most of my time is spent debugging my scripts, but to do so, I need to run them over and over, which isn't that big of a deal when im at the start of the script, but goes in 10-15 minute iterations when im at the end of the script. For people who don't know what im doing, it looks like im doing nothing. – user2989297 Dec 14 '15 at 20:18
  • @user2989297: been there, done that, being asked to schedule a tutorial for a customer... – keshlam Dec 14 '15 at 20:45
2

The contractor is not working hard enough, and the manager is chaotic. I would say you're spending too much time analysing others performance instead of making this an opportunity to enhance your own.

This isn't your problem unless you make it your problem which is bound to have repercussions. Unless you're above the contractor you can't realistically do anything off your own authority, and definitely not towards your manager. At this point I would be busy proving my competence and eyeing up the managers job, because if he's really that bad, he will eventually be removed in a good company.

It's up to management to decide whether the contractor is underperforming, given that they extended him for another 12 months, complaining about that is basically telling them they're idiots. If it's that he's getting paid more than you that is the problem, then that is a whole other issue.

2

Ultimately, as irritating as it might be, your problem is not that the contractor finds time for their hobbies in work time, it's what they're failing to do as a result. Only if you hear it being claimed "the contractor can't do that they're overworked" are the other activities going to seem relevant to the manager, in which case have a short measured response prepared indicating you've noticed the amount of time they spend on other things should suffice.

Take each concern you have (e.g. rarely attends stand-up) and identify clearly the impact it has on the project. Give examples (e.g. because Contractor doesn't typically attend stand-ups, we spent all a day working around a blocker that we didn't know had been resolved). Then order them most severe to least severe effect on the business. Then cull the ones at the bottom because you're going to need to have a concise message.

Make clear what your expectations are. Focus on the important ones that your manager will remember. When you meet with the manager to discuss it, you don't want them coming away thinking "Gosh, AC seems really annoyed with Contractor", you want them thinking "Gosh, AC is annoyed that X, Y, and Z isn't happening, I need to talk to Contractor".

Finally, you may want to let your own manager know you're planning to do this.

  • There's a single manager common to us both, but you make some good points that I will bear in mind, thanks. – Anonymous Coward Dec 14 '15 at 16:54

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.