What would you do?

So here is my problem.

I’m an IT Contractor. I was leading a small team of developers which has shrunk to just me and another contractor.

The other contractor needs constant direction from me on what he should be doing and I’m having to show him how to do something 2 or 3 times.

He has now started refusing to come to the client site in London at all, working from one of the clients other sites. When I interviewed him , we agreed he would come into London 1 day a week and the rest of the time he could work from the other site. Not an unreasonable request…

He is contantly negative about the project - always whinging about any any delays and changes in the focus of what we need to work on. Thats just part and parcel of working on a large project!

I’m currently looking at some of his code - he has just blindly copied something that was blatantly wrong from the previous version of what we are working on. I will now have to waste time getting him to re-do this. This isn’t the first time this has happened.

He is just wearing me down - having to spoon feed everything to him. I would feel bad having to let him go before christmas and in the current economic climate but don’t see any other option really.

So am I being soft or should I just jettison him?

If you noted down when he’s failed to do as agreed, completing tasks, attitude etc I’d say it’s worth pulling him aside and show him what your current issues are but also how you feel they can be resolved.

I think being too firm straight off will result in more issues. I would attempt highlighting the problems, how you can fix them together and improving things moving forwards. If he doesn’t respond to this or becomes more problematic then you will have to be harder - ‘jettison’ him if needs be.

get rid, plenty of other people willing to fill his shoes

This is good advice in relation to an employee, and certainly worth a try, however only you can tell how this may work out.

Is he a sub contractor to you? If so you can probably Jettison him at will and are within your rights to highlight performance issues, in accordance with the contract initialy drawn and any reasonable assumptions drawn from it. If however his contract is with the client, then you may have complications.

Worth considering before any rash action, how easy will he be to replace and how much trainnig will you have to give another contractor to finish the current project. Worth waiting till the current one is over?

Dude, I have been IT contracting for 20 years (Last 17 years PeopleSoft HR and Financials).

It sounds un-salvageable. It sounds like he doesn’t have the skills that you need.

If the guy is a subcontractor to you start lining up a replacement and get rid of him. If you don’t deal with it, it will eventually reflect back on you.

If the guy is not your sub then get rid of him (assuming you are in a position with the client where you can pull that trigger, or influence the trigger puller). He’s wasting your time and costing the client extra money. The quality of his work sucks. Sounds like his attitude sucks too - all that and he’s probably billing hundreds per day.The only “difficulty” you have is potentially explaining how this numpty passed an interview with you… better have a plan in mind for tech screening people better.

Contractors are typically paid over the odds because they are expected to be experts and to delvier. If they under perform or the work dries up they are let go pretty promptly, typically with a weeks notice. That’s the nature of the contracting game and in return they pay no tax and swan around.

You could raise your concerns and set a timeline for improvement as a first step. I’ve worked in places where contractors vanish (or are marched out) but the management there may be harsher than you.

“That’s the nature of the contracting game and in return they pay no tax and swan around”

Yeah I’m trying to have that argument with the tax man at the moment. Sadly, they don’t seem to see things quite like that though.

I can certainly influence the trigger pull. Cleint has made it clear that it’s up to me who I hire/fire for my workstream.

Yeah, get where you are coming from with the interview - 2 of us interviewed him and we initally offered to role to someone else but he just messed us about with start dates so we offered it to Mr Numpty instead. There was such a shortage of anyone with the skills we wanted that this guy seemed like the best of a very bad bunch.

I’ve made up my mind he has to go… I would actually be more productive doing the work on my own without having to clear up after him and it also saves the client a shed load of money on a project that is already way overbudget.

OK a couple of things.

First be careful of trying to be the hero in doing everything yourself - in general you just end up cutting corners and no one will thank you if something goes wrong because you were too busy to do things right.

Second in the position of influence you are in you might be able to take on a junior (almost inexperienced developer). Depending on your billable rate you might be able to take on a grad or someone under your umbrella (your LTD company, your payroll), charge the client a basic rate for the newbie and agree that you’ll bring the newbie up to speed. An extra pair of hands for you, another developer for them at a cheap rate and a start for some youngster. I’ve done that several times. The newbie will one day move on and start billing clients direct, but you’ll have made some money in the meantime and given someone their start…

Anyway - glad you’ve decided to fire the numpty. You’re not my boss are you?

As Joby says, contractors are hired and paid more because they bring specific skills.

If you hired a pilot and he couldn’t taxi properly and wouldn’t turn up at the right airport at the right time he wouldn’t last long.

You could give him a warning to pull his socks up to make your life a bit easier - but in the long run Numpty is on his way out.