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consultant that is family friend

By rlindstrom ·
I work for a family run business (2nd generation - enough said). We outsource some programming to a consultant that has become a family friend over the years. I was promoted to IT Mgr. a few years ago and much to my disdain, he was basically untouchable even though we are way overpaying him. Recently, he found out that we are replacing all of his sub-systems with some new BI tools from Cognos. He offered to helo with the conversion and we declined. He then threatened me by saying "We'll have to see what "...." says this afternoon. I'm at a loss on how to handle this. Has anyone else run into this??

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Missed opportunity

by bughuntermi In reply to consultant that is family ...

You have condemned yourself with your own words...
Using words like 'disdain' and 'way' make you appear jealous, petty and whiney.
You state the consultant 'has become a family friend over the years'. One does not become a friend and sustain the relationship without trust and MUTUAL BENEFIT. Also, since he is a consultant, you have no way of knowing that he doesn't perform/provide other services to the company (family) outside your realm of knowledge. This may, in part, explain his 'way overpayment'. It could be considered a clear indicator of his perceived value/worth to the company. You go on to state 'He offered to help...' yet you declined. Why? He has intimate knowledge of the old sub-systems and could potentially help in making the transition to the new far less bumpy.
Bottom line: If you have VERY GOOD reasons to not involve him you should have gone to the boss BEFORE throwing down the gauntlet. This would have possibly given you the ability to preempt his threats with, "<Boss> has decided we will be replacing the sub-systems with XYZ and that we should be capable of completing it without your assistance at this time - he must have other plans for you.
This may sound like the ultimate suck-up, but everybody gets what they want. You get him off the project, the boss is informed at the onset rather than being blindsided and the consultant gets to keep his pride/dignity. You missed a real opportunity to gain this man's allegiance AND phase him out if it is still your ultimate goal. You will never know what he could have done for you. So, take the lesson, learn it well and, someday, YOU might be the consultant someone is 'way overpaying'.

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Watch out for Trouble!

by gmccague In reply to Missed opportunity

I have experienced situations where the boss is a friend of the employee where the employee negatively impacts the productivity of the team. His work may seem quite productive but the subsequent support and management of the code impacted the rest of my team. The boss thought he was getting good stuff because he saw neat things fast.

The best thing to do is document issues. If the person is truly incompetent it will come out eventually. It did in my case. Take the higher ground. Don't belittle the contractor and work hard with the individual to see if you can obtain some sort of middle ground for a relationship.

Never make a move until you have a clear understanding of the parameters of the relationships. Even if that understanding is wrong.

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Wait and see

by BHunsinger In reply to consultant that is family ...

All you can do is wait and see. A second generation family business that has passed the torch,(however poorly) has these execises in loyalty every once in a while. He may or may not have overplayed his hand. You run the dept. he is a prefered vendor. His imput was not budjeted for this project. 'You want him in Chief? I'll need $xxxx.xx more for the project."
Remember though, loyalty to people who have stood by you is one of the advantages of working for a family business. You are trying to break his rice bowl, and he is howling. Don't see it as a battle for vindication, just document.

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Power Trip

by wje_jr In reply to consultant that is family ...

He is on a power trip acting like an elementary kid. You are at a fork in road. One, you can cave in and sway your hips and limp your wrist. Or you take him aside privatly and tell the brat to grow up this is how it is. And maybe kick his ***. You might lose your job. But if his ideas sub systems are junk. they will bank rupt the company anyway. Go find someplace else to work.
or request a meeting to sit down with "The Boss and his best friend and put on your presentation.
YOu might get fired- or you might not.
There is also chemistry involved- the two might be sleeping together.
You have to wiegh your pay and options and how nice/bad is that place to work.

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Preemptive Action

by SAPer In reply to Power Trip

It appears there was an opportunity for you to have avoided or diffused the situation early. When the "friend" asked about his involvement, you could have told him the project was still being planned and you would get back to him. Then with pros/cons in hand (especially vesting knowlege in permanent staff) present an overview to the owner. Then you could ask about whether he wanted the "freind" in the project with any of you misgivings and his shortcomings.

You would then have the answer from the owner and know whether you have a battle to fight or not.

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And your problem is ?

by ron.riley In reply to consultant that is family ...

Without knowing how good this consultant really is it's hard make a general statement.
I have been consulting for 19 years to numerous companies and the US Navy. During that time I have worked with some really poor and some very good consultants and managers. I have found consultants to be more of the "Techie" type while MOST managers are charts & graphs types that are constantly trying to justify their own existance.
By shortening project schedules, cutting the number of people, or refusing to purchase the necessary resources to make the project work.
If this family friend/consultant has been working for this company for many years. Then the boss must have been impressed with his work. Which is why he still does work for the company. Since the job being converted was originally designed by the consultant, no one would be better qualified to help with the conversion. He has insight about the internal design and coding others might find trouble dealing with during the conversion.
The fact that you don't want this person working on the conversion tells me, that either your jealous of this person and the relationship he has with your boss. Or your more interested in proving YOU can get the job done CHEAPER without him, to further your own career. And impress the boss with YOUR accomplishments.
The reason the consultant draws a bigger hourly fee then YOU is: The company DOESN'T pay his: Vacation, Holidays, Sick leave, Medical Insurance, Life Insurance, Liability Insurance, Accountant needed to fill out Company tax forms, social security (15.x percent, half paid by the EMPLOYER for EMPLOYEES) workmens comp insurance, workmens comp TAX, Federal unemployment Tax, State unemployment Tax. Training materials and expenses. State minamum tax (NJ is $550.00 per year, even if you have no income). Actually he is probably cheaper to hire then you are. So, just WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR THE COMPANY LATELY, BESIDES charts & graphics to justify your existance ??? If you can do the job better, then DO IT. But if you fall on your ***, you have only yourself to blame and the boss will probably rehire him and fire you !!!

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His Problem Is

by thomasmac In reply to And your problem is ?

This person I take it from the short paragraph
that he wrote and quote "Recently, he found out that we are replacing all of his sub-systems with some new BI tools from Cognos." He offerd to help and
I said no ! SOOOOOOOO then he threatened to tell
the boss ! Seems to me sounds like sour grapes
from the CONSULTANT not the IT person Promoted
to IT Manager By owner(boss??) He should document everything and Wait to hear from Boss
Then Present his case and if the Boss doesn't
agree then Do it the owner's way and document
how it was done and the cost instead of doing
it in house Compare the cost with Said consultant
and if it had been done more with expense then
Present the facts to the owners and let them
decide if it was worth it or not!

TAM

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Stand your ground

by ryanrollings In reply to consultant that is family ...

It's that simple (even though it's not). Your doing the right thing. The "boss" will be the final decision and you will have to support that but in the end you will be able to stand by your own integrity and character.

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grow a spine

by bvanho1 In reply to consultant that is family ...

The core issues here are the power play on the part of the consultant, and the posters 'disdain' for this consultant. He cries that he is at a loss...

You need a separate meeting with your boss to express your disdain for this guy. Why? Well, if you can't make a business case for why he's not good enough or shouldn't be around, then your case is essentially about your emotions, and you might as well just change your attitude towards this guy and accept his presence.

If you think he's some sort of fraud who hangs on due to connections then state this to the higher-ups. See, the problem here is you don't really want to risk that, do you? People in these situations invariably are trying to have it both ways. They have 'principles' which apply to the other guy, that scummy overpaid consultant, but not to them, "Oh, I can't go tell the truth to the boss, I can't risk it." In other words, the principles are good enough to whine to others about but usually not good enough to go stand up for, risking your job. And therein is your problem. Lots of folks hang onto bad situations that are "secure" and grow old and miserable doing so.

If you have a legitimate business case and have documented it, go make it. If you don't like being in an environment that is unhealthy wrt politics, then speak up about it and risk losing it. Otherwise, re-examine what you are doing, or just keep your devil's bargain, your choice.

I may sound harsh but I'm not trying tell you you're a bad guy like some of these other twits, I'm just telling you that the responsibility here lies with you, and you're going to have to make the difference here and decide what you really value.

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See what the boss says

by jonf In reply to consultant that is family ...

Just handle it with tact. I have seen this situation in the past. Consultants get offended that they are being replaced by more efficient means. If the Boss has any issues with it then explain the situation and show the cost savings. If the consultant is worth his dirt he wouldn;t of even made it an issue. Most consultants realize that they may be replaced by IT staff or that their custom software will be replaced by a packaged product that provides more ROI.

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