Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: conflict

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technology contractors relating to conflict.

Getting Along at Your Client’s Site

Tips for Dealing with Permanent Employees Who Hate Independent Contractors

Tips for Dealing with Permanent Employees Who Hate Independent ContractorsWhen you consider moving from being an employee to an independent contractor, you weigh all of the pros and cons, considering new challenges such as accounting, insurance, and the risk of being out of work. One challenge new IT contractors sometimes don’t consider is dealing with the negative feelings and the cold reception they sometimes get from a client’s full-time employees.

Building relationships at a new client site is challenging enough, and when employees already have a negative pre-conceived idea of you, you will find yourself starting from behind. So how can you deal with these permanent employees and their bad attitudes, while also building a productive working relationship?

Start by understanding why they resent you

The employee failed to understand your situation and made assumptions, so don’t intensify the issue by falling into the same behaviour. Although you may not agree, keep their point-of-view in mind and consider these reasons that your client’s FTEs may dislike you and your fellow independent contractors:

  • They find out that their company, who they’ve been loyal to for many years, is paying you a lot more;
  • Employees have to deal with the entire job, including office politics, performance reviews, training sessions and admin tasks, whereas contractors get to do only the core work;
  • Independent contractors come in, do the high-profile “fun” tasks, then leave the IT employees to “clean up the mess” and do the grunt work; and,
  • By nature, independent contractors are experts in their field so tend to be more focused and productive. If management hasn’t communicated the IT contractor’s role properly, this is threatening to employees.

Take the highroad and start building that relationship

Depending on the scope of work in your technology contract, odds are you will need that good report with employees if you’re going to be successful, so start building it immediately. It’s up to you to be the grown-up, positive person, so try some of these tactics:

  • Communicate well, especially when explaining your role and that you’re not there to take their job;
  • Be generous of your time by offering training and mentoring;
  • Avoid coming off as a jerk, patronising, or acting above the employees. This can happen unintentionally when trying to pass on your knowledge, so be selective of your words;
  • Stay out of office politics or exposing lazy employees. Simply do your job and help the employees look good; and,
  • Refrain from talking about money or answering their questions as to how much you make. Where figures do get exposed, take the time to explain all of your extra costs. If you do make significantly more than employees, avoid flashing your success in front of them.

Some people won’t change. They’re bitter, disgruntled employees who are going to despise you no matter what you do or how hard you try. Like every other person you come into contact with who is like this, don’t put energy into them. Your options are to put up with it for the duration of your contract, work from a different location (home office?) or, if it’s really bad and you’ve explored all possible avenues with no end in sight, start looking for a new contract.

Do you have experience dealing with permanent employees who didn’t want you in their office? Is there any advice you would offer to a new contractor? We invite you to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

How to Tell a Client’s Employees They Suck

How to Tell a Client's Employees They SuckIt’s not unusual for independent contractors to suffer backlash from the full-time employees at their client site. You’re sometimes seen as a know-it-all who’s coming in to take their work. That means, that when there’s feedback to give and change to recommend, you’re likely to see some sort of resistance.

Delivering this sort of news is common for independent contractors, and many have mastered the art. For others, it’s still an uncomfortable situation or you always find it blowing up in your face. Here are a few simple pointers you can keep in mind next time you need to move a project in a different direction.

Don’t Assume They’re Wrong

It’s important to remain humble and accept that there may be more than just one way (your way) to do something. There are many variables involved in any decision, and whichever choice you disagree with may have also had some factors associated with it. Ensure you understand the full picture, including all of the client’s goals, resources and limitations, to better understand why they’re going in the direction they selected. If you still think they’re on the wrong track, then this exercise may help you uncover the root of the problem or develop a better fitting solution.

Prepare an Effective Feedback Strategy

Before you start explaining how you disagree, ensure that you’ve set up an environment and scenario where your feedback will be understood and compelling. For example, is it something that needs to be said to only one person in private, or do you need to call a meeting to discuss it with an entire team? You also need to consider timing. Providing the feedback immediately will keep the project from continuing in the current direction, but casually mentioning it in the lobby won’t allow for optimal communication. Finally, especially if your comments have potential to start a heated disagreement, refrain from email at all costs; the tone will never come across as you desired.

It’s All in the Delivery

How you say it is more important than what you’re saying. As already noted, it’s important to choose your timing. If your meeting is impromptu, then don’t surprise your client and team members. Open up by asking if you can give some feedback. When you start, be brief, factual, direct and calm. It’s also important that you choose your words wisely. Avoid negative words like “can’t” or “but” and be inclusive with “we could try this” rather than “you need to do that.” Finally, depending on how technical your audience is, you may need to refrain from too much jargon, to make sure they accurately understand the situation.

Get the Most Buy-In

You’ll know you succeeded at telling your client and the employees they’re wrong when they buy into it, rather than being left in an angry state. To achieve this, start to demonstrate your expertise the moment you come onto the site. We’re not recommending you always show them up by flaunting your knowledge, but instead, show your professionalism in simple ways like dressing properly and being punctual for meetings. Build a relationship of trust by mentoring full-time employees so they can learn with you, rather than feeling inferior. When you do give your feedback, come prepared with suggestions that match the overall project goals and backed up with facts and past experiences. Above all, when possible, work with the client and team to develop a solution together.

Feedback on a project is never easy to give, especially when it’s to people who may not be open to it or are dedicated to the current method. Following the tips above should help but above all, remember to pick your battles. Make recommendations in your areas of expertise (what you were called in to do) or it may come off as telling others how to do their work. In addition, be prepared for rejection. The changes you recommend may not happen and that’s ok. If you want to keep working on the contract, you will need to suck it up so you can move a project forward to success.

Resolving Conflict at a Client Site (Video)

We all have a story of a company with such awful customer service that we swore we would never return and told all of our friends to never go back either. When companies handle just one situation badly, it can have drastic effects on future business for a long time. The same holds true when you’re an independent contractor.

As an IT contractor, you are running a business and customer service should be as important to you as it is to any other company. The way you interact with clients, project managers, your team, and any of the client’s employees will play a role in where you work in the future. A negative review by any of these people could affect whether or not the client extends your contract, your agency calls you for a new gig, or a colleague recommends you to a recruiter down the road.

A common downfall in customer service is conflict resolution. You’re challenged to ensure problems are solved, the blow to your business is minimal, and the client leaves happy.  This is a hard balance. Fortunately, this video from Executive Leadership Training can help with great advice for resolving conflict around the office.

How to Resolve Conflict in Workplace (Video)

Conflict arises multiple times throughout any work day. Sometimes it comes while negotiating a contract, it can be due to a disagreement with a client about the best solution, or you may need to deal with a terrible team member.  The best way to deal with conflict is to better understand it and the different options you have when confronting it.

This quick video from Executive Leadership Training sums it all up nicely. If you’ve been finding your conflicts keep leading to negative outcomes, take a watch and see if there’s anything you can improve.

4 Conflict Resolution Tips for the Office

Cameron McCallum By Cameron McCallum,
Branch Manager at Eagle

4 Conflict Resolution Tips for the OfficeJudging by what makes news these days, conflict is a prevalent human condition and one that is responsible for a great deal of stress and anxiety in the world today.  And judging by the level of conflict going on around us, one could make the assumption that as a species, we are not real good at figuring out and resolving these situations.   In the staffing world, it’s interesting to note that our clients often start a job interview with “situational” or “behavioral” questions centered around how you, as an employee or contractor, handle conflict.  The very fact that you are being evaluated on your ability to answer a question around this issue is evidence of just how important it is to organizations.  According to CPP Inc., publishers of the Myers-Briggs Assessment, in 2008, U.S. employees spent  on average 2.8 hours per week dealing with conflict.  That accounts for approximately $359 billion in paid hours (based on average hourly earnings of $17.95), or put another way, 385 million working days.  The economic impact is obvious, but the emotional strain and stress may not be, and is just as important.  So how do we manage workplace conflict?  The following are some great strategies for managing conflict when it arises:

  1. Rip off the Bandage!

Covering up the wound and ignoring the conflict is the worst thing that can happen.  Most of us don’t enjoy dealing with uncomfortable situations and it is easier to think that things will just fix themselves, or fade away with time.  The truth is they won’t.  In fact, what is likely to happen is that the transgressions responsible for the initial conflict will only escalate, causing direct stress to the participants and indirect stress to those who work alongside them.  Workplace stress can lead to increased sick days, personal leave and in the worst cases, employee turnover

  1. Ask (nicely)

Communication is essential to any conflict and often lack of communication or misunderstandings are the prerequisites for conflict to occur.  So if you don’t understand someone’s viewpoints or you can’t for the life of you understand what upset the other party, just ask.  But don’t forget, how you ask is just as important as what you ask.  Try “Say, I was wondering why you did X yesterday?” or “I believe you are upset with me and I’m not sure I understand why?”   These tend to work better than “What the #$%@ is wrong with you?”

  1. Be Prepared to Take Some Blame

It is very rare for one party to be completely blameless in any conflict and once you have asked, be prepared to take some blame.  The best way to diffuse a conflict is to admit some culpability, apologize and explain a) why you behaved the way you did or b) what may have been the cause of the misunderstanding.  It’s amazing how as soon as you are willing to take some responsibility, the other party will do the same.

  1. Write the Rules

Once you’ve had the conversation and are comfortable with the results, make sure you finish the discussion with some rules around further interactions.  Reiterating what were the causes of the conflict in the first place by promising to do your best to avoid them in the future is a great way to ensure that you don’t get into old habits.  Say “Moving forward, I’ll be more respectful of your ideas in meetings” or “I won’t make disparaging remarks about your favourite (fill in the blank) in the future.”

Finally, conflict in the office can take on a life of its own and can be complex and intimidating to address.  But the costs can weigh heavily on your well-being and to the bottom line of the company.  If you absolutely don’t know how to move forward, there are always folks who can help.  Your direct supervisor or someone in HR will be able to assist you and if you are temporary or on contract, don’t forget to ask your staffing agent for help.  They will not only give you great ideas, but they will know how to escalate things appropriately.

10 Basic Work Rules You Already Know

If you speak with almost any manager, whether they’re managing contractors or full-time employees, they’ll be able to tell you countless stories of conflict in the workplace dealing with interpersonal issues and personality clashes. The fact is, these situations could be avoided if everybody just followed the most basic rules of being in the workforce.

Here are 10 basic rules every contractor should remember when at a client site. As simple as they are, many people (not you, obviously) seem to ignore them and end up being the cause of conflict in the office. As you read through this list, see how many people you can think of who could use a refresher.Teacher teaching basic rules of the workplace

  1. Build balance in your life. Work should not be your life, yet it should be an important part of your life. Give each part its due and always give your client 100%.
  2. The people working around you did not choose to be your spouse, your partner or even your friend. When at work be a professional “work colleague”.
  3. If you have issues in your private life, then you should deal with them during your own time and not bring them onto your client site.
  4. Your lifestyle requirements should be formed based upon your income, not the other way around. If you demand more money from a client, it should be because you’re worth it, not because you want to go on vacation.
  5. Your client, their employees, and your colleagues are at work to focus on work so they appreciate everyone else who takes that same approach. (Don’t be a distraction)
  6. Take the emotion out of your dealings with colleagues. It doesn’t matter if you like them or not, you all have a job to do.
  7. Make decisions based on facts, business realities, best practices etc.
  8. Communicate professionally with all around you.
  9. Always treat the other person the way you would like to be treated in the workplace.
  10. Get thick skin.

These rules are common sense but we’ve all worked with people who never got the memo.  For that reason, there’s a button at the top of this post that will let you to email these rules or share them on a social media profile (not that we’re trying to start conflict, we simply want to help you improve your work environment).