Best way to respond to criticism as a contractor
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    Default Best way to respond to criticism as a contractor

    Hi

    I'm in a contract which has 4 weeks left to go. I'm a Project Manager and I report into a Programme Manager who is also a contractor with the same agency.

    Today, I received an email from the Programme Manager saying "she'd had some feedback from the room that I'd been coming in late, taking long lunches and leaving early and could I please make sure I'm doing the required hours".

    This has never been mentioned to me face to face, timesheets have always been signed, and part of my role involves phoning other sites and troubleshooting their issues. The office is loud so I sometimes disappear during the day or stay in the car when I get back from lunch and make some calls. It's an office where people are going to meetings a lot so no one is at their desk all day so I didn't see it as a problem and I was getting the work done. Apparently, now, it looks bad and I'm being accused of doing short days.

    Worse, the email was CCd into the contact at the agency for some reason.

    What's the best way of handling this? Should I not mention it but make sure I'm at my desk more? Or speak to my manager and say I was doing work but I'll stop that and stay at my desk now? Or should I have a chat and express that I'm actually quite insulted that it was more than implied I'm being lazy and unprofessional to the recruitment agency which could affect future roles. I actually am a bit offended but I don't want a confrontational meeting with no upside, what's the point in that.

    What would you guys do?

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    Do the required hours, deliver the work and invoice on. Not worth getting in a flap over. Something had been pointed out and a solution had been offered.

    You aren't being accused really. Someone has probably mentioned it in passing and it's been dealt with.

    The agency don't care. If you want to stay there then just make a little more effort to be visible, keep your nose clean and Bob's your Uncle.
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    Respect my authoritah!

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    If the programmer manager is approachable and reasonable, have a friendly chat with her, so she's got the ammunition to tell the next sneak to concentrate on their own work, rather than worrying about your time keeping.

    Do not be apologetic or in anyway give the impression you've done anything worth fussing about.
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    Next time you are in a role where you have to go elsewhere to make phone calls or work due to a noisy office tell other people especially the person you report to the first time you do so where you are and explaining why, so they can find you if need be. Also make sure they know when you are on lunch everyday.

    I was in a role once where it was sometimes impossible for me to work at my desk so I would go home to work. I would always email the PM if I did and tell a couple of other people so they knew where I was and as they could call me.

    One reason you need to do this is if there is a fire alarm they need to know where you are. Yes they can check on the security card list but if people think you may be in the building they have to look for you.
    "You’re just a bad memory who doesn’t know when to go away" JR

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    Your explanation sounds pretty plausible, I would put that in an e-mail reply and perhaps even an example of a recent conversation or two so the Programme Manager can verify it. Then I would follow Sue Ellen's advice and ask for permission in future.
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    I would start making the calls in the office, and get a headset or something to help drown out the background noise. I doubt the comments from permies will stop unless you start behaving like them sadly.

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    I wouldn't worry about it personally, bar having a quiet chat with your programme manager - as long as you are delivering and keeping them in the know, the rest is irrelevant.
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    Depending on how the program managers email was left I would do one of two things;

    1) If it invited a response, respond asking if you can have a chat to discuss it - try and keep it informal and as others suggest, don't make a big deal out of it. This shows the agency (not that they care) you're doing as asked and reacting appropriately.

    2) If it didn't invite a response, wait until he/she goes for a coffee / kitchen break and tailgate 'em in, and then have your informal chat.

    As for the contents of the chat, I would just explain you've made a couple of business calls from your car after your lunch break because it's a quieter environment which has made your calls more succinct so you can get more done in a shorter space of time. Ensure you have the call logs to back your story up if / when challenged. I would then ask the manager if he/she wanted you to be more visible in the office and if their response is yes, do that, put it all down to a miscommunication and it's fixed.

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    Just a point on the informal chat or mail response. You aren't going in to win an argument or prove anything. Nothing wrong with showing a bit of humility. Apologising for it looking like it does but I was only yadda yadda won't do any harm. You are looking to put this to bed quickly and a confrontational approach won't do that. I doubt the Programme Manager really cares. Sorry but really it was like this but it won't happen again gets it put to bed without any loss of face in my mind.
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    Quote Originally Posted by northernladuk View Post
    Just a point on the informal chat or mail response. You aren't going in to win an argument or prove anything. Nothing wrong with showing a bit of humility. Apologising for it looking like it does but I was only yadda yadda won't do any harm. You are looking to put this to bed quickly and a confrontational approach won't do that. I doubt the Programme Manager really cares. Sorry but really it was like this but it won't happen again gets it put to bed without any loss of face in my mind.
    Completely agree

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