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Annoyed client is a friend of my boss

Annoyed client is a friend of my boss

(OP)
My working arrangement is this: I work for an engineering consultancy, I'm currently working on secondment to one of their clients (client pays my company $x in return for y hours of my time, I spend this time working in the client's office).

The problem is this: A project is going at snail's pace within a department because of company policy getting in the way, people being off work, general lack of resource, having to wait for information, etc. Another department in the company works with the one I do and I'm the single point of contact - this department is annoyed with progress. My repsonsibility is to deliver reports and specifications for the other department on behalf of my department and they aren't recieving them at a rate they would like to because I'm not going to submit them incomplete.

The issue is as follows: My contact in the other department is good friends with my manager and the two bumped into eachother and got talking about work. I was then invited to see my boss at fairly short notice for a catch up, he was pretty interested in what I was getting up to, how things were going, how our mutual friend was not happy with my performance (he's not our mutual friend, we fell out before he worked for my client).

My concern is that I have a performance/pay review in a month's time and after having a pretty good year, I don't look particularly good at the moment.
Do I raise my concerns with my resource manager? Surely it's not acceptable for a client's junior engineer to complain about a seconded engineer to his supplier's senior engineers because he's annoyed with project progress. He should be complaining to the resource manager (who he knows of) or my client side team leader (who he also knows) or my client's project manager (who he has complained to and got rebuffed because it's not me that's the problem).
Do I request a new manager (not as hard as it sounds, people change all the time)? Do I really want to have my performance graded by someone who has a personal relationship with someone who thinks I'm the reason the department is performing the way it is, because I'm not going to openly blame anyone else?

It should be noted that I was requested specifically for this project by the client; based on my past performance, there's no way the teams I work directly with, and ultimately pay my employer's bills, have any problem with my work.

RE: Annoyed client is a friend of my boss

I thought Kafka was required reading in engineering schools. It certainly should be.

Quote:

(he's not our mutual friend, we fell out before he worked for my client)
Well, there's that...

Quote:

I was requested specifically for this project by the client;
and there's that.

Right now, your 'performance' is dependent on a menagerie of people over whom you have no control, none of whom have any incentive to make you look good.

Do not be surprised if you get screwed in the short term. It's nearly inevitable, given what appears to be diffuse responsibility, same thing as no one is responsible for anything. ... and you, distant from your home port, so to speak, may well be thrown under the bus, or off the gangplank, or whatever.

Long term? Do your best, as always, but let your experience in the short term guide your actions after your current project is history.

... and look around. What happened to the last few souls who were 'on secondment'?

Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Annoyed client is a friend of my boss

(OP)

Quote:

Right now, your 'performance' is dependent on a menagerie of people over whom you have no control, none of whom have any incentive to make you look good.
My employer does, that way I become more valuable, selling my services becomes more profitable and I spend less time 'sat on the bench'. In theory obviously.

Quote:

... and look around. What happened to the last few souls who were 'on secondment'?
They're either still there on secondment or have what I consider a really boring job at their former client. Some have left to start a private consultancy but that doesn't appeal to me - I need more grey hairs before I could seriously call myself a 'consultant'.

I guess the toss up is between my manager attempting some form of misguided damage limitation or him realising that the person annoyed with me is, in reality, not an influential person who doesn't pay the bills and has no contact with anyone who does.

I didn't get taught anything useful in engineering school!

RE: Annoyed client is a friend of my boss

Quote:

I didn't get taught anything useful in engineering school!

You may not have recognized the lessons as such.
Remember the inter-classmate competition and politics?
Remember the incredibly fuzzy thinking in economics, interpreting graphs without numbers?
All good analogies of 'Real Life'.


Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Annoyed client is a friend of my boss

We are all judged, at one time or another, but criteria that are completely out of our control.
At the moment, it doesn't sound like the weight of that judgement will be very severe.
It also doesn't sound like you have a respect/disrespect problem with this manager.
If the rest of the folks in your department are dragging their feet, then maybe you have spare time.
Best strategy may be to make yourself as good a pal with your manager as his other friend is.
(Note: making oneself useful and amiable is not the same thing as kissing up.)

STF

RE: Annoyed client is a friend of my boss

Do nothing, wait dices to fall and see than what's next.

RE: Annoyed client is a friend of my boss

TED7 - look on the bright side. My wife works in a field where the annoyed client can be a homicidal maniac making threats so the office has to be locked down under 'active shooter' protocols.

Not saying you don't have concerns, just trying to re calibrate your "sensitivity to grumpy customer" o-meter.

Posting guidelines FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm? (probably not aimed specifically at you)
What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

RE: Annoyed client is a friend of my boss

2
I believe you are missing the bottom line - your project's failing. I'd fully expect a mediocre or bad review in at least a few areas based upon that fact alone.

JMO but many folks get too focused on their individual contributions, especially in the early years of their career. In reality profit driven by project success is all that matters, quite seriously its why its the bottom line on P&L statements. Patents, papers published, and outstanding work otherwise are irrelevant if your employer (or in this case, your customer) loses money. Furthermore, teams of mediocre contributors working well together usually outperform teams of top contributors who do not work as well together, communicate, etc. Even if you're a top contributor, X project failures/Y time often means dismissal so the company can get someone else who can succeed on a team. Many folks also get rather focused on what is/isnt within their control as part of the "blame game." Again, if the team fails then you have failed period, no ifs/ands/buts about it. Playing the blame game doesnt help anyone, it only speaks negatively of those playing it. As part of their job, I'd fully expect your supervisor to regularly contact other members of the project team in both your and your customer's companies to check progress, how youre working within the project team, etc. Everybody they speak with isnt going to always give positive feedback, its normal and expected. However, if multiple or key folks see fault in you or your work then you cant expect a great review, especially if the feedback is from the customer. To get that good review, you really need to ensure your boss gets almost entirely positive feedback by going out of your way daily to drive work completion, push others whenever possible, and communicate not only within the project team but with your boss as to progress and impediments. If you know folks arent happy then you need to focus on improving that, schedule a couple meetings with everyone involved, explain the situation, and start working the process to identify and overcome impediments. Accepting a bad situation and/or unhappy team members/customers/suppliers/etc rarely works long-term IMHO.

RE: Annoyed client is a friend of my boss

Sometimes you just got to roll with it - it doesn't sound like it's the end of the world yet. If you wish, one strategy I'd call is 'inoculation,' I'd drop by casually with my manager in a quieter day with advice as how to move a project forward. Frame the question in a way such that no one gets thrown under the bus, get his advice, and then execute on it, but actually, execute with it as you've listened to his mentorship and direction.

There are many a time that this strategy actually results in solving the problem. But in times when the soft stinky stuff hit the rotating splatter-machine he has a sense of buy-in and ownership to your problem.

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