We can work it out?
October 20, 2005 3:47 PM   Subscribe

I'm a consultant working for a company that has the option of hiring me soon. This would be a dream job were it not for one person...

I work as a developer for a major consulting firm. For almost six months I've been helping out a bank with a migration that is running late. The bank has the option to hire me at the end of the six months, and have made it clear that they wish to exercise that option. I have the opportunity to refuse, but the interesting work, the awesome benefits (35 hr week, a pension, five weeks of vacation after the first year) plus the fortunate incidentals (within walking distance of my house, great location, cool office) make this a dream job and impossible for me to say no. Except for one guy.

The team I am working with are all used to an old mainframe language and new to any (OOP) languages of the day. None of them are adept except for one person, however that man is the bane of all the other developers, including me. He lacks an iota of softskills, works away from the team as much as possible, refuses to negotiate on anything, is absolute in his decisions, and willing to impose them on others even after the team leader says otherwise. Even when confronted by management he is adamant that he knows best, when by most accord he knows only how to code and rub people the wrong way. In a word this man is incorrigible. Everyone including management is well aware of this, but because he's the only competent productive developer from the dinosaurs, and because the project was late before I even signed on they are extremely hesitent to move him around.

I've never met anyone so difficult as him, and I've worked with hundreds of people. How do I prevent this man from keeping me from what would otherwise be my dream job? I have less than a month to decide.
posted by furtive to Work & Money (10 answers total)
Best answer: Sounds like you've got the perfect machine. Treat him this way, hand him jobs to be done to exacting specifications (the exacting specifications being provided by the person handing out the job, of course) and you should have the exact output you expect.

That's what I'd do with the person, unless I could, well... transfer them or let them go.
posted by shepd at 3:56 PM on October 20, 2005

Best answer: It seems like he will be much easier to move around after you take the job. Perhaps the fact that after hiring you this obstinate individual will no longer be the only person with the skills they need (thus giving management a lot more power to get him to play well with others) is one very attractive benefit of hiring you.
posted by oddman at 4:19 PM on October 20, 2005

Best answer: Presumably there will be life in this bank beyond this one migration. If you can stand working with this person for the duration, take the job and shepd's advice for the moment. Once you're in, start maneuvering to create your own team that doesn't work with this person.
posted by 5MeoCMP at 4:20 PM on October 20, 2005

You probably already thought of this...but is this other guy a consultant brought on under similar terms as yourself? Maybe he won't be offered a full-time position?
posted by Brian James at 4:27 PM on October 20, 2005

Best answer: There are two questions here:

- Should this guy's lack of social skills stop you from taking this job? No, absolutely not. If this man's not your boss, then allowing him to stand between you and a sweet job is foolish. Don't even consider it.

- What can be done to minimize his impact on you? Look, you clearly understand the situation. I wouldn't go looking to pick fights with him, but they clearly value your skill set, which I'm assuming includes the same OOP as this guy. Use that to your advantage.

There's a fine line between establishing yourself as a go-to authority, and sidling into town guns a'blazin'. No matter how much of a blowhard this guy is, make sure your views are known to the team leader, which will allow him to head off Mr. Jerk with a real alternative.

It'll suck at first. You will occasionally find yourself doing things that aren't good decisions because of this guy. Ride it out. Be the authority, and he'll get marginalized on his own.
posted by mkultra at 5:06 PM on October 20, 2005

Best answer: Remember that as a consultant, you're often the most hated person in the organisation. I've been there. Things may get easier with this guy once you go internal; he'll know that his job is safe, that you're not reporting his activities to management, you're one of the guys etc.
posted by blag at 5:09 PM on October 20, 2005

Best answer: If you're actively trying to negotiate with this person on a daily basis, and his problems become your problems, then you have to act. Otherwise, I'd take shepd's suggestions to heart, and use him like the machine that he'd really like to be.

If the former is true, however, I'd pick up a copy of Sun Tzu's The Art of War, or one of the many derivative works that apply his theories to modern day life. It's astounding the sort of tactical negotiation tricks that you can easily create out of the ageless wisdom.
posted by thanotopsis at 6:22 PM on October 20, 2005

Response by poster: Thank you, this is all very good advice, and helps me gain a bit more perspective. Yes, I'll definitely take the high road and bide my time.
posted by furtive at 7:18 PM on October 20, 2005

Bit of a wild car here but from your description he could have Asberger's, it might be worth reading methods used to communicate with someone like this. Am at work so can't look up at the mo. sorry. He definitely sounds like he is on the spectrum and there are very specific ways to engage that you can use
posted by Wilder at 1:40 AM on October 21, 2005

If you feel he is not making good decisions, make sure to document everything. That way, if he forces something that you were against, and your boss comes down on you when things go bad, you have documentation to show that you were trying to go another way, but were forced to do things differently. Working with someone who forces things can suck, but not as much as possibly losing your job or credablility because he took over. Good documentation can save you if there is a problem (and it helps you analyze what decisions were both good and bad, thereby helping you to do your job better, and when you go for your new job you have a whole list of things to take from to fill up your resume)
posted by markblasco at 2:55 PM on October 21, 2005

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