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My contractors are driving me nuts

(6 Posts)
ThomasRichard Fri 08-Jan-16 23:26:55

They're not really 'my' contractors but they've been drafted in to help with my specific area of work as there's such a huge workload and our manager is remote and works in a slightly different area so I'm unofficially heading up the team.

I have two separate issues that I need to sort out on Monday. The first one is laying general ground-rules about timekeeping, actually turning up to work, last minute working from home and the like; nothing drastic but making sure meetings are attended and I'm not ringing them at 10 o'clock to find out whether they're coming in that day. That's irritating but easily dealt with.

The second issue is the constant politics and power plays they seem to be making with each other, which is driving me slightly barmy. We all do exactly the same work but covering different areas and apparently some are more 'prestigious' than others, although what they see as prestigious are the bits that I see as a PITA. I set the assignments and there's a task list they then work from, but due to people coming and going the assignments change slightly every so often to make best use of the people we have. They've now taken to coming to me to say what another one has said about their assignment - "So-and-so wants this, so-and-so isn't happy with that" - and going behind one another's backs to get a 'better' task set. Some also seem to think that they are above doing their own admin, which leaves us behind schedule unless I prod them into doing it.

I've been an A/L this week but they've dragged out manager into it so I've had to set up 1:1 and group meetings all day on Monday to sort it out. I'm furious with the lot of them and want to tell them that they will be doing x, y and z without any more arguments, everyone will do their own admin and I want no more crap. Is there a good way of saying this?

That was long, sorry!

Fizrim Fri 08-Jan-16 23:55:05

That sounds frustrating. Do you know the terms of their contracts? I'm wondering if it does specify hours of work (and preferably in the office) rather than vague 'whatever it takes to get the job done' type of clause.

Are they all self-employed (this would be common in some sectors, and I'm guessing that you are in some kind of IT sector as this seems to have the largest number of contractors!) or from an agency? Because the agency could give you some leverage, but I suspect they are self-employed.

If they have irritated 'the management' while you've been away (and not herding them on a day-to-day basis) I think you can point this out to them. 'I have been asked to speak to you about your performance/the level of support you require on this project by 'the management' (or whoever it was) because they are concerned about the progress (or a tactful term for whining), the terms of your engagement are this blah, blah, blah.

I would expect some of them to be pretty unhappy and for some level of turnover to happen.

I used to work in HR, we used an outside agency for one minor element. When things often went wrong with their service they were not great, I whined all the time (I was the one that had to deal with them) but to no effect. Until I took about a fortnight's A/L. On my return, one of the managers had dealt with them instead grin

AnnaMarlowe Sat 09-Jan-16 00:05:28

If they are daily rate contractors give them a telling off about professionalism and a reminder of the terms of their contracts.

The whole point of using contractors is that they are easy to get rid of.

ThomasRichard Sat 09-Jan-16 00:21:15

I know their contract terms. I'm not concerned about the work getting done - aside from the admin - as I know it is, but about things that I think of as basic courtesy and professionalism i.e. letting me know if they're in/out of the office and turning up for meetings.

The assignment bit is ticking me off no end. I'd rather like to point out to them that they are here to do whatever needs doing on our task list and that their personal preferences will be taken into consideration after business need. However, we do a very niche role and people to fill these positions are extremely hard to come by so I don't want to upset them too much. I do feel that they're taking the proverbial a bit now and lines need to be drawn before it gets completely out of hand.

EBearhug Sat 09-Jan-16 20:51:13

I'm guessing IT, too. smile

It all sounds reasonable to me. I also get wound up by people not turning up for meetings with no notice. I have been known to pull more senior people up on this - things do come up, but that doesn't excuse them not apologising. Less bothered about whether people are actually in the office, as we're all based in different locations anyway, so being in the office or WFH is all the same, as long as they are contactable - unless they are due to be in a meeting in person, or via video conference room. It's also frustrating when people don't send in reports and timesheets on time - and then act all surprised, as if they've been asked for it the first time ever, rather than it having the same deadline every week.

Can you get round it by saying you're focussing on efficiency or something and from now on, task list must be worked in first come, first served order, unless there's a good reason not to, like a prio 1 problem? Make it about the tasks, rather than them. To be fair, as I think about it - we do tend to cherry pick a bit in my role, too - however, we've got a range of preferences, so it generally balances out. If it doesn't work like that with yours, it does need sorting out. I would take advantage of the new year to review how things are working.

ThomasRichard Sat 09-Jan-16 21:02:23

Thanks for the reply. It's not IT but all the tips are relevant. I'm stuck covering all the really awful troubleshooting bits so nothing on their list should be life-or-death but when they first started I made sure that they all had something that was quite complex, a few moderate bits and some simple bits to fill in the gaps.

Our company is going through a major structure and the people we work with are changing almost daily but it should now settle down so I can use that as the basis for my decisions.

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