Try to bully me, new boss? This will be your shortest job ever.
Back in the day, I worked as an independent IT consultant, and was hired on along with another independent to subcontract on a team for a major consulting house, we’ll call it CH. Everyone else on the team was a CH employee. The two of us were not supposed to tell the client that we weren’t part of CH, but the client figured it out pretty fast, because we independents were doing most of the work while CH’s code monkeys were busy filling out spreadsheets all day and going on team-building exercises. But I digress.
The project ran past its initial deadline, and my contract expired. I stayed on a week-to-week basis, as a professional courtesy to get the project finished, because I liked the client if not the team. Unfortunately the CH project manager was booked somewhere else for his next gig, and they brought in a new guy to replace him. Let’s call him David Stress.
David flew in on a Monday morning to get the project handed off to him, and immediately started pissing on everything to mark his territory. He was derogatory and belittling to the team, and liked to raise his voice. I was working in my office (well, actually a closet with folding tables that I shared with three other team members) and didn’t hear what he was saying out in the main room, but I could sure hear his tone. Then he burst in to the “office” and demanded, “How are we doing [specific payroll-related conversion task]?” I said, “We’re using [program X].” He waved his hand dismissively and scoffed. “That’s stupid. [Program X] won’t work for this. You need to do something else.” The other indie was in the room at the time, and she saw me coming up out of my chair; she told me later she thought I was going to deck him. I knew he was full of shit because I WROTE PROGRAM X. It was custom code for this project, and he had no way of knowing what it would or wouldn’t do. He was just trying to bully me and be the alpha dog.
I did not deck him. Instead, I went to the client’s payroll manager, with whom I’d been working closely for months, and who was driving the client side of the project. I laid it on the line. I said, “Look, I know you know I don’t work for CH. I’m here on an independent contract. That contract is up, and I’ve been working here week-to-week just to get you guys through.” She told me she was aware of this. “Okay. This new guy, David Stress, is a bully and a blowhard, and I won’t work with him. I have no contract at this point, and with him running the project I won’t be back next week. I’m not asking you to do anything specific about it; I’m just letting you know as a courtesy so you can plan to transition my work to someone else.” She sat back in her chair, thought a moment, and said, “Okay. Thanks for letting me know.”
Two hours later, David Stress was removed from his new position. The payroll manager, faced with losing the one technical guy on the team who actually knew what was going on with a very complicated payroll system, called CH and said “We don’t want this new guy, take him away.” CH rearranged some things to keep the original project manager with the project.
The funniest part of the whole thing was that CH had scheduled a “welcome” dinner for David at a posh steakhouse that evening. Rather than create the further embarrassment of cancelling the dinner, they actually went ahead with it, as a “farewell” dinner for David, who had been on the project for less than one day. It was fun to watch him try to put on a brave face for that.
(Yes, I did stay with the project to the end after that, and yes, they went live successfully.)