Advice?? Touchy situation

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by klmno, May 3, 2010.

  1. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I've been working out of my home for another small group of professionals in my same field. My "supervisor" or the person who's actually managing this work has less experience than I do but I didn't care because I was happy to get the work and she was involved with this particular client from the beginning, etc. So, things have been going ok except for two things- 1) she is constantly changing the direction she sends me in, then the head guy questions either why I have that many hours to bill for or why I don't have more done; 2) when the head guy starts to get agitated about things not going the way he wants, I get these emails from her saying she told me to do XYZ, but yet that isn't exactly correct.

    Two weeks ago the head guy said he wanted me to put more hours in- which I had been trying to get all along but I had to subtly and politely push this lady to send me enough work to put more hours in- she kept saying she had to spend some time on it too get it together. That might be true, however, the head guy should have been told that by her if it was the case. Then, she sent work, but emailed every day or two changing what I was to do on it. Then, she told me that I could expect more changes from the client. On Friday she sent an email telliong me to hold off and not do anymore work due to the amount of changes expected from the client. This weekend I tried to get things coordinated enough to make sense without actually changing anything more and sent her files, per her request. I also sent an invoice, which should have been there Friday afternoon so I'll take the blame for sending it at 7:50 this morning instead.

    Now, I have rec'd and email from this lady thanking me for sending this stuff but saying "however, I had sent you several emails telling you to stop work". I went back and read them aggain. I have two from earlier last week saying "maybe we shouldn't make this change yet" but then within a day I'd get another saying "well, ok, go ahead and make the change". The ONLY one that said Stop or Hold Off working on this project wzas the one that came in Friday at lunch time.

    I need to email her back acknowledging that I have stopped work- meaning of coourse that I can't put more hours in like the head guy had asked. But also, I feel a little defensive for her trying to say that she had told me before to stop when she hadn't. I think the head guy questions her and when he does, she points the finger at me. I don't know which one is the problem but it appears like poor managgement is the problem to me. I'm not getting in the middle of that- I just want the head guy to know that if I am to putt more hours in, I need the work given to me and that the work I have been doing or not doing has been per her direction, which keeps changing.

    Suggestions of how to respond to her? This is such a close-knit profession that going behind her back and talking to the head guy would probably backfire because she has been working for him for several years. Also, I should note that in this profession at least, this tactic of blaming the "new guy" is VERY common.
  2. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Can you just start cc'ing the head guy on all correspondence? Is he the person that hired you, or is she? If it's him, that's who you answer to, and he ought to be kept up to date on what you're doing, anyway. You could say something like, "since I'm getting conflicting information regarding the amount of work you'd like me to put in on this project, I wanted to be sure we're all on the same page." When I get conflicting direction, I always start just cc'ing the conflictors and let them decide amongst themselves :)
  3. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    I like crazy's suggestion. If possible start cc'ing the boss man with every email you send so he knows what is going on consistantly. Even if the woman working with you attempts to keep him out of the loop, he'll see her replies via your responses because you'll be cc'ing him and he'll get a copy. If she has an issue with it, simply tell her it is a plan to make communication much easier and faster and everyone knows what is going on from one moment to the next. Only reason she'd have to be "offically" ticked is that you thought of it and she didn't. Unofficially she'll be ticked cuz you're covering your fanny and she won't be able to blame you for her poor management skills anymore.
  4. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I agree. Cc the head guy on all correspondence. And, blaming the new guy is common in all professions!
  5. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    OK- I can do that. Now, since I'm feeling a little sensitive and defensive about this because I really needed the work and the head guy wanted me to do it and he's been losing money on this project, how do I nicely say:

    "No, I did not receive any direction to stop work until Friday afternoon, and that was after you apparently used me as an excuse for more work not being done 2 weeks ago (even though Mr X and I wanted me to put more hours in), it took me 2 days emailing back and forth with you saying you didn't have it ready to send me for you to finally send it so I could start working on it, you continuously changed what you want me to do on it, then decided I should have stopped a long time ago because that really isn't what work should have been pursued at this point and now are blaming me for that- probably because Mr X doesn't want to pay the bill"?
  6. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Ms X,
    Per your instructions to me on Friday, I did stop any forward progress on said work. However, since you indicated you wanted the files, I did spend some time this weekend getting them in order. Since Mr. Y had requested me to put more hours in on this job, those hours are reflected in my latest invoice dated xyz.

    I am unclear though as to your reference to previously asking me to discontinue work for this client. If you refer to our email history on this job the last couple weeks, you will see my requests for the information to move forward as well as the numerous changes you outlined from the client. While there have been several changes to the original work order, I was not asked to stop working on this until Friday.

    Let me know how you wish me to proceed.

    Naturally Mr. is being cc'd on this email. I think this way, you cover the additional hours he asked you to work but also are subtly showing that there have been changes and you weren't asked to stop until friday. Mr. Y can ask to see the e-mail correspondence between the two of you should he have any questions.
  7. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    YOu can't bring up what's already happened, it'll make you look bad. But, perhaps you could simply email her and the other guy and say you want to confirm your understanding of where you stand on this project, i.e., "please confirm that you do not want me to work on the x documents you sent me last week, nor do you want me to make the changes you requested on [whatever day she gave them to you]. As discussed with you and Mr. X, I will cease all work until further notice." Then, if she replies and gives you work, you can reply , cc Mr. X, and say "I'm assuming this means I am free to begin working on this project again, please confirm."

    Can you tell I've dealt with this before? lol
  8. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Great input!! thank you both- it's always so much easier to handle things professionally when one's blood pressure hasn't risen due to scapegoating, huh?? LOL!! I'll wait until I calm down a little more then compose an email to send out in the morning- right before court. UGH.
  9. jal

    jal Member

    klmno - I read this (and then walked away, but it hit me) you are being thrown under the bus.
    Reply all (if boss is copied) or BC/CC EVERYTHING! (as others have said)!
  10. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I'd send her an e-mail and cc it to him that says "Thanks for clarifying your April 30 e-mail directing me to stop work on this project. Please feel free to let me know if you would like help in the future."

    She knows that she didn't tell you to stop work until Friday, and you have the e-mails to back it up. You don't need to wave it in front of their faces. At the same time, you have clarified that you didn't get any definitive word until Friday, but you can handle definitive direction with grace and are happy to work again as needed.

    You're right, this is bad management all around. Him for not letting her know that you were still in the loop, him for letting her blame you, her for not making her wishes clear as to your involvement, her for trying to dump on you.
    Last edited: May 3, 2010