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When you’re doing contract work, know the limits of your influence

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Q: “Six months ago, I started a contract job with a small software group. The lead developer is a control freak who has taken over some of the tasks listed in my contract. He also has a cold personality, so I have trouble getting along with him. I talked with the lead developer about his attitude towards me, but nothing changed. Next, I went to the manager of our group and explained that this guy was taking part of my job. When that didn't help, I took my problem to the manager's boss. Now the lead developer is being given work that clearly should be mine, so I feel that management is siding with him. How do I keep them from reducing my responsibilities?”

A: You are either very young or very naïve. Anyone with an ounce of political savvy would realize that an established employee in a leadership role has much more influence than a newly-hired contract worker. Complaining about him is therefore quite likely to backfire.

You also seem confused about what it means to be a contractor. The term "contract employee" typically refers to payroll status. The description of your assignment is simply a guideline and does not confer a contractual right to perform certain tasks.

The best way to get desirable projects is to impress the lead developer with your competence and cooperative spirit. Since contract employees have minimal job security, you would be wise to start building relationships instead of destroying them.

If your boss decides that you're “hard to manage," your job could be at risk. Here are some behaviors to avoid: Six Signs that You May Be "Hard to Manage."

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