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Telling tales, call him on it or leave it?

(8 Posts)
ohcomethefuckon Sat 25-May-13 16:57:06

Hi,
I´m a consultant. I´ve just got my first job post kids. I´m 41. I took off 5 years to raise kids and start a business. This is my first month back in this type of job, and my first time in over 10 years working for someone else (I used to freelance).
So ...
I was briefed to talk to a client by the manager from our company who looks after the account. I was warned that the client was hostile, that the last person who had the job had left the client because of stress and that there was a big hole to be filled. The interview (phone) wasn`t great and I came away thinking that I probably wouldn`t be assigned that client as I didn`t have the right background and they needed someone 5 days a week onsite (abroad, something I had agreed with my boss that I wouldn`t be available to do).
I was a bit pissed off because the manager had sent me in to the conversation without the briefing documents that I needed, and hadn`t discussed my inability to work abroad with the client. I felt set up. However, I left it, waiting for feedback.
I got that by my boss calling me to give me a bollocking about not being flexible enough in terms of working abroad. Apparently it would be better to agree to do a 100% with the client and then finesse my way out of it later.
Ok, whatever, that´s not v ethical but pretty much standard practice. I don`t agree with it, but that´s a whole other argument.
The thing that really pissed me off was that the manager sent feedback to my boss without discussing it with me. Then my boss immediately took his side without hearing any mitigating stuff from me.

How do I clear this up without sounding as though I am whinging?

It doesn`t help that I don`t know my boss. He hired me 3 weeks ago and we are in different offices and I´m not due to see him for 2 weeks. I also don`t know the manager.

So - wait until I see my boss, or call him, and what to say? Am swithering between calling and just leaving it.

ohcomethefuckon Sat 25-May-13 16:58:13

Posted too soon.

Meant to add, thankyou for reading, and any and all advice welcome.

tribpot Sat 25-May-13 17:10:48

It doesn't sound like you and this company are going to be a good fit. When your boss agreed to you not doing 100% abroad do you think that was him playing the same technique you were advised to do with the client, i.e. agree to anything to get the signature on the dotted line, then start wriggling after that?

Personally I think I'd tackle this head on. I'd email your boss saying "we seem to have got off on the wrong foot, I'd welcome the opportunity to speak to you directly to clear this up" and let him take it from there. How do you know your boss took the manager's side? I think this is probably the key to finding the best approach for you.

I couldn't be arsed with this myself, btw. I left consultancy when I had my ds 8 years ago. There are MNers who have managed to build up quite a good freelance business from customers who are fed up of this kind of bullshit from the consultancy firms.

ohcomethefuckon Sat 25-May-13 17:33:31

Thanks tribpot I´m coming to that conclusion myself aswell. Unfortunately, I moved countries before I had the DCs and so don`t have a base of previous clients to court. I´m in Germany and the particular consultancy area I work in isn`t well established here, so I´ve been forced down the employee route, when I´d probably rather be freelance.

I like your direct approach. I can`t really read my boss on the phone, that´s the problem. I feel like he took the manager´s side because he mentioned a few things and his tone seemed to be one of "telling me off" which pissed me off no end. I didn`t say that I hadn`t been briefed, as I wouldn`t tell tales on a colleague, but I also didn`t take issue with the fact that the feedback had been given to my boss and not directly to me, which I actually found really impolite and unprofessional.

The old me would probably have thought, fuck it, and either called the manager and sorted it out, or just got on with my job. I think the reason I´m wobbling about this is that it actually upset me, which is very odd. I´m not hard faced, but I´m usually fine at criticism and discussion, but that´s not how this felt. I´m also a newbie at this firm, so don`t have a track record with them.

tribpot Sat 25-May-13 18:19:59

Is this your first job in Germany? I wonder if you're also coming up against cultural differences which are making it hard for you to read the situation. I'd definitely be tempted to take some advice from German friends.

The manager may have taken the 'pre-emptive strike' approach to defence, if he realises that he's buggered things up with a client by sending someone in to pitch them who wasn't the right fit. But you also need to know if this is the standard operating procedure for the firm - at least so you know that you need to stay in 'cover your own arse' mode on a permanent basis. Even if that means having to shaft your colleagues when they do something wrong, like postponing the meeting if the briefing docs haven't appeared.

It feels like you've been stitched up, and you're unlikely to be able to recover the situation now, which is extremely unfair (and may be why you feel upset/aggrieved). I would tackle it as quickly and openly as you can - whilst of course making clear it must have just been a miscommunication that let to you not having the briefing paperwork etc. I don't think you'll get anywhere by accusing the manager, even if you wanted to.

I take it you're on probation? Can you frame the discussion in those terms?

ohcomethefuckon Sun 26-May-13 14:29:17

This is what I came up with, will let you know what effect it has ...

Dear boss,

I was surprised and confused about our conversation on whateverdate and I wanted to clear the air. (thanks tribpot)

Firstly I wanted to reassure you that nothing has changed since our first interview. I completely understand the need to be at client site and my family situation should not stand in the way of me working to the ((company name))model.
I also agree that I should have managed the interaction with the client better and welcome the feedback.

I wanted to apologise for putting you in the position that you had to defend my availabilty to another manager without first being briefed by me.

I was unhappy with the way the client interview went at the time, and thought that was something that I would sort out directly with the manager involved on his return from holiday. I didn`t expect feedback about my performance to come directly to you, but rather that we would discuss the situation peer to peer. To be honest, I am not happy that I haven`t seen feedback about me, and that this went to you without my knowledge. However, maybe this is a way of working that I need to get used to, and I´ll make sure you are fully informed in the future.

I´m happy to discuss this further on the phone or next week in person.

ohcomethefuckon Sun 26-May-13 14:29:51

Meanwhile, am job hunting.

tribpot Tue 28-May-13 20:59:38

Yes, I think the 'PS am job hunting' bit is probably best not in the email to your boss wink (which I realise it isn't).

Personally I would not have apologised given you hadn't done anything wrong, particularly I don't know how you could have managed the interaction better with the client given you were insufficiently briefed.

However, I think it is better to tackle the issue head on and get the feedback from your boss, and take things from there.

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