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Ask Slashdot: How Do You To Tell Your Client That His "Expert" Is an Idiot?

samzenpus posted about 7 months ago | from the use-your-words dept.

Businesses 384

Esther Schindler writes "It's a danger for any consultant, and for most inter-departmental internal project staff: To get the work done, you need to work with someone else who supplies expertise you lack. But when the 'expert' turns out to be the wrong person how do you tell the client (or boss) that you just can't work with that individual?"

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Old fashioned idea... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46234009)

Tell the truth?

Re:Old fashioned idea... (5, Insightful)

crafty.munchkin (1220528) | about 7 months ago | (#46234063)

Be as diplomatic as possible, but completely factual and provide as much evidence as possible. You never know what relationship the 'expert' has to the client/boss.

You Don't (5, Insightful)

TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) | about 7 months ago | (#46234505)

Structure contracts, fees, tangible goals so if the "expert" slows you down, you get paid more.

The idea of avoiding idiots is lunacy, you make due with the cards dealt. If they have an "idiot" as an "expert", this speaks a lot about them and they probably need your help quite a bit.

If they didn't need your help, they wouldn't have hired you!

Re:You Don't (0)

Redmancometh (2676319) | about 7 months ago | (#46234549)

I once did an overhaul on a company that had a extranet-type backend for B2B purchases of very, very expensive equipment. They didn't verify POST data server-side...
There was no authentication for the back end..etc.

Re:You Don't (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46234581)

I once did an overhaul on a company that had a extranet-type backend for B2B purchases of very, very expensive equipment. They didn't verify POST data server-side... There was no authentication for the back end..etc.

Yes and your little anecdotcal "me too!" matters ... because?

Re:You Don't (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46234607)

Because that's what's it like everywhere in SMBs...

Re:Old fashioned idea... (5, Insightful)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 7 months ago | (#46234087)

Know the important facts before you start:

Is the idiot related to anybody? Does he play golf with the CEO? Does he have dirt on somebody?

You can bet the 'idiot' has something.

Re:Old fashioned idea... (3, Funny)

postbigbang (761081) | about 7 months ago | (#46234407)

Nice to test the political waters but there are lot of just clueless sociopathic idiots that get fat consulting contracts, then spew nonesense until your ears bleed.

Some idiots are lucky. It's like the old adage that nothing is foolproof because fools are so ingenious.

OTOH, Cousin Ernie may have gotten the gig for reasons that don't meet the test of credulity, either. Never leave to conspiracy that which can be explained by sloth.

Re:Old fashioned idea... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46234473)

Hah, its funny you say that, because I ran into a similar situation working for a somewhat niche but well-known and respected website with many established customers. What happened was that we were bought out by an obscure advertising shit-peddler, and immediately came the MBAs telling us about web 2.0 and how the things on our site were rendered too small. One of the sonofabitches actually said, " When people see small things on your screen, they think small. Think BIG! 16-point text and 500-pixel padding minimum! "

It was clear that their idea of a redesign was here to stay, but we stalled its implementation as much as we could -- well, except for the Jewish editors whose eyes always had dollar-signs dancing in 'em -- and when we finally rolled it out the users hated it so much that constructive criticism wasn't enough - established users with excellent karma(a term for measurement of a member's positive participation) not only badmouthed the redesign, but used their moderation points moderating up the trolls(people who disparage, often using profanity) who did likewise. It go to be so bad that they all organized a boycott, which is going on this week.

Re:Old fashioned idea... (-1, Offtopic)

postbigbang (761081) | about 7 months ago | (#46234487)

So you used a bogus email addy when you established your account here?

Re:Old fashioned idea... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46234625)

So you used a bogus email addy when you established your account here?

He or she posted anonymously, you stupid unobservant fuck who needs obvious things explained to you.

Re:Old fashioned idea... (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 7 months ago | (#46234651)

Subtle. I like it.

Re:Old fashioned idea... (5, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | about 7 months ago | (#46234143)

You're facing a problem here:

Your boss hired this person, most likely for a lot of money. He has to justify that expense. Admitting now that he fell for a snakeoil peddler is not something that will further his career.

Re:Old fashioned idea... (1)

suso (153703) | about 7 months ago | (#46234613)

And be blunt about it, like this: http://www.albinoblacksheep.co... [albinoblacksheep.com]

Its Easy (3, Funny)

Lord Apathy (584315) | about 7 months ago | (#46234015)

If its your last day on the job. Just say, "You're an idiot and so is that moron you hired."

Just remember though, burning bridges isn't always a good thing.

Re:Its Easy (1)

mjwx (966435) | about 7 months ago | (#46234099)

If its your last day on the job. Just say, "You're an idiot and so is that moron you hired."

Just remember though, burning bridges isn't always a good thing.

And the last day should be the first day you find out that the client takes the advice of an idiot (so many consultant jokes... must resist).

Seriously, if a client wont listen then dump the client. They'll cost more money than they bring in over the long run, they'll definitely cost way too much in headaches.

Re:Its Easy (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 7 months ago | (#46234121)

If you bill for time and materials, the headaches turn in to more cash.

Re:Its Easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46234149)

Only if you're allowed to bill for Excedrin by the crate.

Re:Its Easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46234211)

No, that is all wrong. You buy Excedrin by the crate but charge by the pill.

Re:Its Easy (5, Insightful)

mjwx (966435) | about 7 months ago | (#46234289)

If you bill for time and materials, the headaches turn in to more cash.

Not really, you spend all your time working on a project that's doomed to failure because the client wont listen. When it does fall through you cop the blame and the idiot client tells everyone at the golf club how useless you are. This is what I mean by "in the long term", what you're proposing is short term gain with no consideration of long term effects.

If you don't understand how important reputation is as a consultant, you've never been a consultant.

Re:Its Easy (1)

Pseudonym Authority (1591027) | about 7 months ago | (#46234173)

Terrible advice. There is always money in confusion as long as you write the contract properly, which should always be the case.

Re:Its Easy (4, Informative)

mjwx (966435) | about 7 months ago | (#46234263)

Terrible advice. There is always money in confusion as long as you write the contract properly, which should always be the case.

Because contract have never been torn up in court.

I used to know a consultant like this. Would write incredibly one sided contracts, still 100% legal but very one sided, which only idiots would sign. It worked for a while but when one project fell through this idiot client hired a non-idiot lawyer and he lost more than he earned in his career. House, investments, car, even furniture. The guy went from driving a Porsche 911 (not cheap in Oz) to a old Huyandai Getz in a matter of days and hand to declare bankruptcy just to keep the Getz.

Writing unfair contracts is an easy way to get sued. Even fair contracts can land you in a lot of shit.

Re:Its Easy (2)

redmid17 (1217076) | about 7 months ago | (#46234315)

Sounds like the non-idiot consultant was decidedly an idiot. Should have incorporated to shield his personal assets.

Re:Its Easy (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 7 months ago | (#46234339)

As long as it's a legal contract it can be as 'unfair' as you can get them to sign.

'Fair' is not a legal term and issues related to fairness should be handled in contract negotiation.

That said 'legal contract' is not a simple subject. Consult a competent shyster.

Re:Its Easy (2)

immaterial (1520413) | about 7 months ago | (#46234393)

Fair may not be a legal term, but unconscionable is.

Re:Its Easy (2)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 7 months ago | (#46234457)

All related to 'legal contract'. Like I said: consult a competent shyster.

Re:Its Easy (4, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | about 7 months ago | (#46234597)

Actual judges will side against you if you are the one writting the contract. So if you think you can commit fraud by writing a sh*tty contract then you are due for a rude awakening.

Re:Its Easy (2)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 7 months ago | (#46234657)

WTF? Where did I say fraud?

All I said is 'fair' is not a legal term. Make sure you have a 'legal contract', consult a shyster.

Judges will weigh any ambiguity against the person that wrote the contract. They won't throw out a legal contract because one party thinks it's 'unfair' in hindsight.

Re:Its Easy (1)

Pseudonym Authority (1591027) | about 7 months ago | (#46234445)

I'm not saying to write unfair contracts, just one that says "contractor will work with the client to implement X in exchange for Y$ per hour". Then, when they hire a consultant that gives them a 5000 page report detailing why they'll get 1000% better performance if they prefix all their classes with the client companies name, don't argue with them; just do it. If you were a carpenter and the homeowners changed their minds from White #001042051 to White #001042052, you wouldn't argue back that the difference is physically imperceivable to the human eye, you'd add a molecule of black to ten gallons of white and charge for it.

I'm not arguing that you should be out to do a shitty job and suck money from customers, just that if they want to piss money away, let them piss some on you.

Re:Its Easy (4, Insightful)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 7 months ago | (#46234105)

The only bridges worth burning are the ones you wouldn't cross anyhow. Never burn a bridge you have crossed, even if it was a mistake. You have time invested.

Burn bridges before you cross them, not after.

Re:Its Easy (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46234247)

I don't normally burn bridges after I've crossed them.
But when I do, it's to stop Beta from following me.

Re:Its Easy (1)

Lord Apathy (584315) | about 7 months ago | (#46234565)

he only bridges worth burning are the ones you wouldn't cross anyhow. Never burn a bridge you have crossed, even if it was a mistake. You have time invested.

Excellent advice HornyWumpus. Some times all you have invested in it is time and time can be more valuable than any kind of monetary game you get out of it. Even if the person that is taking your place is a moron it its probably best just to keep your mouth shut and exit.

Re:Its Easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46234241)

If its your last day on the job. Just say, "You're an idiot and so is that moron you hired."

"Not me though. I'm awesome. I meant the other guy. Is a moron. That you hired. Damn, I messed that up; I'll come in again. Actually, no I won't, because I QUIT. Moron."

Replace Idiot with Incompetent (5, Interesting)

alphatel (1450715) | about 7 months ago | (#46234023)

Many years back a CEO of a subdivision of a company wanted to know why his email service was disrupted. I told them that it was because their idiot webmaster took control of their DNS and did not copy the MX record. The webmaster defended himself claiming that a document was not in place explaining how to handle the client's DNS. This went back and forth a bit between the three of us, and ended with me calling the two of them incompetent and irresponsible. I never spoke to the webmaster or the client CEO for better or worse.

A few years later, the CEO of the parent company called wanting to know why his network was suffering intermittent downtime and demanded it be fixed immediately. I explained that his outage was caused by antiquated equipment that could not do debugging, and there was a proposal already on his desk for replacement gear. He was in a huff, but he knew I didn't mince words or advice, and that quote was signed in minutes.

While you can't always directly point to a net gain after a net loss, your experience and attitude will help define how other perceive you. You can go in quite politely, or you can be very blunt. I have been both depending on the situation.

Either way, if you can't call out losers, you'll wind up being one.

Re:Replace Idiot with Incompetent (5, Insightful)

mysidia (191772) | about 7 months ago | (#46234097)

Either way, if you can't call out losers, you'll wind up being one.

I like it. That line should be elevated to "ancient chinese proverb" status.

Re:Replace Idiot with Incompetent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46234249)

the term CEO keeps getting dumbed down and down, what's next, CEO of the mail room?

subdivisions don't have CEO's, they have GM's. CEO is like fuhrer, there's only one.

Re:Replace Idiot with Incompetent (1)

afidel (530433) | about 7 months ago | (#46234593)

Depends on how the company is organized, if it's a wholly owned subsidiary or a conglomeration then sure, the subunit could have a CEO.

Re:Replace Idiot with Incompetent (1)

Alan Warrick (3422939) | about 7 months ago | (#46234307)

Outline cases where the project has been or is being adversely affected by negligence or incompetence. Provide measures to correct the issue via further documentation if part of your consultation is dependent on the projects success (if it can be saved). Otherwise you should have had performance reviews to gauge how the project is performing. If you are just providing technical direction disregard everything above and offer to provide the incompetent employee training on how to fuck his wife.

Re:Replace Idiot with Incompetent (5, Funny)

phantomfive (622387) | about 7 months ago | (#46234365)

Once when I was working as a contractor for an overseas company, the manager brought me in to listen to all the complaints of another developer, saying how bad my code is.

The other developer started out by saying, "Why do you use function pointers in C? Why not call the functions directly?"
At that point I looked confused and said, "That's how you do polymorphism in C, right?"
Then the manager laughed, and the other developer got frustrated and said, "but it's weird!!"
That pretty much ended the situation, although the other developer didn't talk to me for a while.

Point of the story is, when someone questions your competence, relax and use big words like polymorphism. I guess.

Uh... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46234033)

I hope you have the credentials to back up your claim that the person is an idiot. Many people with no IT experience think if you don't have the answer within 5 seconds you are an "idiot." I've dealt with people like that before and needless to say I moved on to bigger and better things. I won't stay with a company that works like that. I also have 20 years in the field and many certs. I will never ever know everything, I know I'm competent at my job functions.

Re:Uh... (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 7 months ago | (#46234119)

Credentials? The world is full of credentialed idiots.

Feed the idiot rope, let him hang himself.

Re:Uh... (1)

smash (1351) | about 7 months ago | (#46234475)

That. If he truly is an idiot, he will hang himself sooner or later. Be sure to state your concerns with things he is doing (and you better know what you're talking about, or YOU are the idiot - you can work this from the angle of "have you considered" X, which is either validating or challenging his design - either way, due process). If he's not an idiot, then no problem.

Re: Uh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46234381)

Your certs don't mean dick.

Most experts are Idiots. (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46234051)

Most experts are idiots at what they claim, but an expert at earning trust regardless of their knowledge. So be careful of these people, as they are quite aware of their lack of expertise and their fragility. Gain trust of the client first before taking on people your client trusts.

Re:Most experts are Idiots. (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | about 7 months ago | (#46234231)

"Um, you might want to get a second opinion on that."

You've just accomplished several things by that statement.

(a) Boss' ego is boosted. You're telling your boss that he's engaged professional talent, but that the problem is really thorny (and he was justified in spending the money).
(b) You've given him an out that involves more money spent (not always a bad thing to a manager).
(c) You've effectively put into your boss' mind that the consultant is an idiot.

Re:Most experts are Idiots. (1)

smash (1351) | about 7 months ago | (#46234477)

Yup. Also, D) - you've shown that you give a fuck, are thinking about the problem and your mind is on the job.

It's never happened to me (5, Insightful)

msobkow (48369) | about 7 months ago | (#46234053)

Oddly enough, I never had to work with anyone who was completely incompetent. Some didn't know squat about the technical side of things, but their business knowledge was impeccable, and that was what they brought to the table.

Maybe the problem isn't whether they're an expert in the field, but whether you know how to communicate with someone outside your field.

Re:It's never happened to me (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46234073)

Oddly enough, I never had to work with anyone who was completely incompetent. Some didn't know squat about the technical side of things, but their business knowledge was impeccable, and that was what they brought to the table.

Maybe the problem isn't whether they're an expert in the field, but whether you know how to communicate with someone outside your field.

THIS!

Re:It's never happened to me (1)

neminem (561346) | about 7 months ago | (#46234129)

Even if I agreed with the assessment, if they're being tasked (or tasking themselves) with technical work, insisting that they be the one to do it, and then botching it horribly, does it really matter whether or not they're good at business, or whether you're good at communicating with business people? I'd argue that it doesn't.

Re:It's never happened to me (1)

msobkow (48369) | about 7 months ago | (#46234169)

Your assumption is that they were brought in for technical expertise. That may be an invalid assumption. And that is what I've usually found to be the case over the years.

Just because someone isn't a technical superstar doesn't mean they don't have valuable knowledge. Only the navel-gazing technocrati and engineers are so arrogant as to presume everyone else on the team is an idiot just because they don't "grok" the technical.

I also found it amusing that the original poster of the article is a wuss, afraid to state things like they are, if the person actually is incompetent. They start off referring to them as an "idiot", and then soft-pedal it as "can't work with this individual." To me that just screams technical arrogance and unwillingness to work with someone they can't communicate with because of their lack of experience.

Re:It's never happened to me (1)

turbidostato (878842) | about 7 months ago | (#46234419)

"Only the navel-gazing technocrati and engineers are so arrogant as to presume everyone else on the team is an idiot just because they don't "grok" the technical."

That's not usually the case. While I agree with the basic premise that one of best assets for a consultant is to be able to communicate with -and listen to, somebody out of her field, it's also true that the one that hires a technical expert on a field he himself is not a technical expert but still confronts the expertise of the consultant *is* an idiot.

Re:It's never happened to me (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 7 months ago | (#46234639)

> Your assumption is that they were brought in for technical expertise.

That much should be obvious by the context. You can judge the situation by what's actually happening. There's likely no real opportunity for confusion there.

Re:It's never happened to me (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46234341)

Well, I have worked with a complete idiot. However, he was very good at buttering up the boss. His mode of operation was to get you to do the work with him, and then see the results. If it was successful, he would be in the boss's office claiming the success. However, if it had issue(s), you got blamed for any issues occurring, and somehow, the boss would be blind to what was going on.

Working with this person started me on learning about office politics, and peoples personalities. In terms of how to handle the situation, I had to divorce myself from the project, taking on different responsibilities, and then allow the idiot to unambiguously fail on his own (so it couldn't be blamed on me). Many years later, I ran across the wikipedia definition of a sociopath, and decided that a sociopath was what I had been working with.

Fortunately, he was the exception to people I've worked with.

Re:It's never happened to me (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 7 months ago | (#46234523)

I worked with the same dude and spent a little time making sure he publicly embarrassed himself claiming something he didn't even understand.

Turns out the boss just didn't care. The fish rots from the head down.

If forget the name of the corollary to the peter principle. It basically says that once someone reaches their level of incompetence they know it and surround themselves with even more incompetent people. Whenever you enter a new job, the first thing to do is identify the head idiot and where the borders of his/her control are. Then never attempt to effect the idiots area unless you can take out the head idiot.

Re:It's never happened to me (5, Insightful)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 7 months ago | (#46234385)

One of the downsides of above-average intelligence is a propensity to discount contributions and/or suggestions from those cerebrally challenged [wiktionary.org] .

The truth is, you can learn something from everyone, and an expert in a specific field with an IQ approaching his body temperature knows some stuff that you do not.

Re:It's never happened to me (3, Funny)

Lumpy (12016) | about 7 months ago | (#46234481)

Absolutely. For example how to not do something, how to injure yourself horribly, or like I saw yesterday.....

How to destroy a $60,000 Conference room table by not listening to those of us that know better.

I said several times, you have it marked off wrong you had better stop and re measure. I was told to shut up and they cut the hole, 6 inches off center.

It's even worse when the "Boss" is an idiot... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46234067)

...and doesn't know the first thing about the job the people under him do.

Re:It's even worse when the "Boss" is an idiot... (5, Insightful)

bobbied (2522392) | about 7 months ago | (#46234537)

...and doesn't know the first thing about the job the people under him do.

Actually this is NOT a reason to trash your boss. I've had a number of managers who didn't have a clue how to do my job who where extremely effective and great to work for. We had a mutual understanding and respect for each one's roll. With one, he didn't have a clue how to design a network and stand up the equipment because it was MY job to do that for him. He just pointed me to the project and we would discuss the details he needed to know (cost, schedule etc) and I did what was required. He knew I was going to tell him what I really thought about the cost and schedule and trusted me to do the work within the cost and schedule I gave him. I knew he would insulate me from the management garbage and wasn't going to throw me to the wolves if there was some unexpected slip or overrun. We did status reports on large projects and he would stop by regularly to talk about things, but he NEVER wanted to tell me how to do this or that, and if we where behind schedule or over cost I WAS TELLING HIM about it. We trusted each other to do their jobs and it worked great.

So, I actually think that the most effective bosses don't have to know all the ins and outs of what his employees do. But what they DO need is the ability to surround themselves with people who DO KNOW what needs to be done and empowering them to do their jobs. Bosses that know all the details are sometimes way to eager to try and micromanage their underlings and it takes a rare talent to let your employees do the work for you. I'll ALWAYS take a manager with the talent to delegate over one with perfect domain knowledge.

Re:It's even worse when the "Boss" is an idiot... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46234645)

My boss dosn't understand the technical side of the department is, why should he ? His job is to run the department so WE can do the technical side. After all we are supposed to be the experts and know when to go to him if we have a problem.

Slashvertisement (4, Insightful)

MrEricSir (398214) | about 7 months ago | (#46234069)

I don't know, but I'm sure if I read the free eBook that the article is advertising I'd become a management expert literally overnight. !!! DOWNLOAD NOW !!!

Wait, what? (1)

Jack9 (11421) | about 7 months ago | (#46234079)

If I don't want to work on a project with an "expert", as part of my job, but I don't want to work on the project anymore because of something someone else is doing...I'd complain to my supervisor, then if I still wasn't happy, I would quit my job. If I wanted to keep my job (even if it was just to see them fail) I would manage to hobble through by doing the absolute minimum. It's not exactly controversial. How is this interesting enough to be a topic?

Re:Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46234123)

this is why work is outsourced out of north america and never into north america.

because most american employees are like you

Re:Wait, what? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46234531)

Except you're wrong about work not being outsourced into NA.

Lots of work is, believe it or not, and lots of work comes BACK after being outsourced because the outsourcing project was a complete failure (note, I'm not saying all, or even most, but a lot).

Re:Wait, what? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 7 months ago | (#46234375)

Because not every one is a passive aggressive person, and they want a good solution?

call it BETA and walk away (5, Funny)

turkeydance (1266624) | about 7 months ago | (#46234103)

it's been done before

Isn't it similar to seeking a second opinion? (1)

liwee (3407373) | about 7 months ago | (#46234147)

I believe the phrase "different points of view can help ...." makes for a decent excuse. Trust Your Doctor? When to Get a Second Opinion [huffingtonpost.com]

Strange - Seems TFA answers TFQ (4, Insightful)

MerlynEmrys67 (583469) | about 7 months ago | (#46234151)

How is this an Ask Slashdot when the article answers the question. Are we supposed to argue that the author(expert) of the article is an incompetent?

Depends on the sequence of events... (1)

djupedal (584558) | about 7 months ago | (#46234153)

Have you already billed and been paid? Do you know if the 'expert' has already voiced an opinion to said client about your voracity? Is the client a relative?

never figured this out (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 7 months ago | (#46234235)

This happened in two different contracting jobs. In one, first indication of possible trouble was when the contractor in question put all of his certificates of course completion (framed) up in his office. Second indication was when he tried to convince our client that he should manage the rest of the contractors. Eventually, we stayed, he didn't. The bad news was that I had to untwist and make coherent all of his "solutions".

In another job, similar experience, one of our team of four complained loudly and often about the state of our administrative solutions, saying over and over again "it's just a mess". He was hired into project development. About six months later he left for unstated reasons, and our client offered all three of us full time positions.

I never did figure out how to tell my client that he had hired a poser, but in both cases, things worked out for themselves. I'd say, wait and see if the client wises up.

Welcome to the real world (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46234237)

Just remember that "getting it off your chest" is usually a bad, counter-productive approach. Usually (there are always exceptions). Think before you leap. Then couch the news in very diplomatic language that sounds complimentary to the "other expert" to any third party listening (probably not your boss though) but which also states that their expertise such as it is, is not necessarily a good match for the particular project.

Going around calling co-workers morons generally is a bad idea, except in certain environments where you wouldn't want to work anyway.

There's a book for that. (4, Funny)

berchca (414155) | about 7 months ago | (#46234243)

Just read, Dealing with Dummies for Dummies...

Here's a suggestion (2)

The Second Horseman (121958) | about 7 months ago | (#46234277)

Figure out what you'd need to get the job done. That might be an additional person, not a replacement person in order to make up for the deficiency. There may even be someone else in the company that could "assist".

Go to your client and tell him that this is what you'd need to get the job done because you'd assumed a certain skill set.. If the client won't go for it, regretfully let him know that you're not the right person for the job under these circumstances and that his "expert" might be able to suggest someone else. Or maybe you can and then you've solved the problem, even if you're not the solution yourself.

In any case, walk in with a solid proposal for fixing the problem that doesn't paint the "expert" as a complete idiot - just say that the skill sets don't line up right - and be prepared to lose the client. But if it's really that bad, you might be better off losing it now than getting dragged into a giant fight over breach of contract or cost overruns.

Documentation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46234285)

Outline cases where the project has been or is being adversely affected by negligence or incompetence. Provide measures to correct the issue via further documentation if part of your consultation is dependent on the projects success (if it can be saved). Otherwise you should have had performance reviews to gauge how the project is performing. If you are just providing technical direction disregard everything above and offer to provide the incompetent employee training on how to fuck his wife.

This is your job .... (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46234293)

As a consultant it is *my job* to work with the client and their people. Incompetent or not, it is still my job to work with them.

If you are complaining about this as a consultant, you have no business being a consultant.

Re:This is your job .... (2)

hax4bux (209237) | about 7 months ago | (#46234377)

Mod up. I have been contracting since 1992 and a large part of my job is play nice with all sorts of unattractive people. I often wonder how many of them managed to get hired in the first place, but that really does not matter. They were in place when I got here and most likely they will be here when I leave. Smile and cash the checks, or go get a job where you can happily pick fights w/your coworkers.

As easy as: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46234303)

Hey dude, you expert is an idiot.

Let us know... (4, Insightful)

Prien715 (251944) | about 7 months ago | (#46234323)

I'm using the slas^H^H^H^H a website's beta and its designers have the same issue.

Near as I can tell, they don't plan on listening....

Re:Let us know... (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 7 months ago | (#46234371)

I hope not, because you and your ilk are wrong.

Re:Let us know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46234569)

I'm pretty sure the GP isnt the idiot here.

Re:Let us know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46234631)

Until the "improvement" has feature parity then there is no improvement, and the "ilk" are correct.

Re:Let us know... (1)

hduff (570443) | about 7 months ago | (#46234545)

I'm using the slas^H^H^H^H a website's beta and its designers have the same issue.

Near as I can tell, they don't plan on listening....

But they pretended to listen. And the OP should do the same and pretend to respect the consultant, document the shortcomings and make it clear that slas^H^H^H^H the people in charge of the project are wrong.

You have TWO choices here. (3, Insightful)

bobbied (2522392) | about 7 months ago | (#46234331)

Come on, be honest. But before you open your mouth, THINK carefully.

I have a policy of ALWAYS assuming that any problem somebody brings me is MINE to fix. I most likely caused it and it's my responsibility to fix it. Problems are not always my fault in the end, but until I've proven to myself and more importantly to the person who brought the problem to my attention that it's NOT my fault I'm taking personal responsibility to see it gets fixed.

With that in mind, before you go off and start calling somebody you don't know well an idiot to his face you better be darn sure. And before you go tell anybody else about your suspicions they are an idiot you better be doubly darn sure you can back up the claim with absolute, you'd bet the farm on it, proof. Otherwise, you are going to be shot full of holes because YOU are the idiot.

Given that you obviously are NOT the subject matter expert (or why would you need one given to you) I would say that what we most likely have is a personality clash between you and the expert. There is a non zero chance this is not true, but unless you are ready to make yourself into the subject matter expert and PROVE it, you really have two choices...

First choice: You can suck it up, stop complaining and start working with the expert regardless of how you feel about them. You don't have to like them, but you need to respect them and stay professional about any disagreements. This will involve trying to figure out how you can best approach this person and doing things you would consider wasting time by taking their advice. Get their advice in hard copy, just to CYA in the future, but do your best to play in the sandbox with them.

Second choice: You can go in, guns blazing and shoot the idiot full of holes, preferably in public in front of management. If you are wrong, you will go down in a blaze of glory, fully burning the bridge behind your hasty departure. If you are right, and manage to prove it without stepping on a land mine in the process, nobody will ever want to work with you and the disgraced "expert" is still likely to be there, possibly on your team, which puts you back to your first choice where you will eventually have to work with them. When they start like this, such relationships don't go well and your life will be a mess.

So, I suggest you suck it up and do what it takes to work with the idiot and if you really just cannot make it work, look for another job.

You work in IT but don't know how to handle this? (2, Funny)

mtrachtenberg (67780) | about 7 months ago | (#46234349)

[EOM]

With a list (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 7 months ago | (#46234361)

and examples.

Reminds of the time I was talking to an 'Expert Computer Engineer'. I had to explain binary to him.

SEO "Experts" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46234373)

Any web developer who had to work with a client's self acclaimed "SEO expert" can relate.

just can't work with that individual. (1)

pigsycyberbully (3450203) | about 7 months ago | (#46234383)

With computers with computer networks the idiots always declare that others are the idiots. Whenever they make a mistake they say "it's because of that idiot" behind the alleged idiots back. In computers and computer networks everybody is an expert and every problem is because of somebody else. There is a reason why an employer likes to see the word a team player on a CV, it is because team players help each other and turn all the computer network experts into non-idiots. No company can function without the self-declared experts until the self-declared expert is gone.

Dump your client (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46234387)

In some instances its really not worth the time and effort to work with an incomplement client. If there is a problem with the design you may end up spending a lot of unpaid hours trying to fix or patch it. In my observation is simply better off not to bid on the project and spend your efforts on getting a different project. It certainly saves you in liquor and shrink expenses! Peace of Mind is better than any financial gain.

If you wish you can simply decline to work on this selected project because of other ongoing projects that prevents you from providing the sufficient resources need to get it done on time or on budget. In many some you make end up getting a call back by the client begging for help when the expert turns the project into a disaster. This way the client dumps the expert and you can step in to save the day for the client. The idiot expert gets his\her just rewards and you get to kudos of saving the day.

prove him wrong (1)

smash (1351) | about 7 months ago | (#46234411)

... and if the client still doesn't see sense, drop the client, let him/her use their expert and pick up the pieces when it all goes to shit.

You don't tell your client his expert is an idiot. (1)

macraig (621737) | about 7 months ago | (#46234421)

You find another client.

You are really the incompetent/idiot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46234431)

If there's someone you can't work with, you're the incompetent one.

On the other hand, if you have a process in place, and a manager + lackey who refuse to follow their own process, they're the ones who have the problem and you need to just get the fuck out.

Labeling is just wrong (1)

cyberspittle (519754) | about 7 months ago | (#46234449)

You really should avoid names like "expert" and "idiot" as they are opinions. You should provide technical answers backed up by fact. Once done, you will let the other person draw conclusions about expertise and idiocy. We are all experts in some way and idiots in another. Please put your emotions aside and be a professional.

Or, as Sarah Silverman said in her standup (4, Insightful)

sunking2 (521698) | about 7 months ago | (#46234453)

If you find yourself always having terrible roommates, guess what? You're the terrible roommate.

I say the "idiot" word all the time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46234459)

I work with designs that come from "expert" "degree holding" AV engineers all the time. and most of the time they are idiots because they have no clue at ALL what they are doing. They base everything off of equipment descriptions and sales literature and never EVER touch the stuff.

So they design something for the client that is a load of shit that will not work, and I have to point out how they wasted $20 grand by paying this engineering outfit to draw them a broken design.

Typically the job ends with it not working, the engineer asking "what can you do to fix it" and Me looking at the boss saying, "I told you so". Little old me fixes the overpaid idiots design, and we recycle the whole thing over again on the next project.

All because the overpaid idiots have degrees and papers. Fact is most degree holding people are morons.

Re:I say the "idiot" word all the time. (1)

hduff (570443) | about 7 months ago | (#46234555)

Fact is most degree holding people are morons.

And you are the smart one who does not have credentials.

Question and Answer (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46234527)

(1) Is there more than one idiot you work with or near?

(2) Do you think you are substantially undervalued by the company?

(3) Are you of the opinion that you are doing your coworkers a favor by working with them?

If you answered "yes" to any two of the above, you're the idiot.

Tell him his expert likes beta.slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46234559)

nuf said

As a consultant.... (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 7 months ago | (#46234575)

You need to stop worrying about whether your expert is an "idiot" or not. The only question is: are they qualified to provide the input, or do the thing they needed to be brought in for? If yes, then if necessary remind them and the client what the scope limits are on what the expert is needed for, show the concerns proof that the expert was going a bit out of scope, and point out their "signs of incompetence" as specific problems/action points for the expert to address, or point out on how you know this expert has not so far brought the expertise in the area you needed.

You should not put yourself in this position in the first place.

If you lack expertise, and the expertise is not just vendor support, You should find your own experts to help you, not ask your client to go out and find another expert; which basically reduces your appearance of qualification to even make the decision that the expert is not clueful about the right things.

What about when the expert you had the client recruit tells them that you ( the consultant) are an idiot?

Very carefully (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46234599)

Because one day you may find that your that consultant that's the "idiot"

No problemo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46234627)

Ultimatum or Resignation

Dice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46234659)

So this story is directed at dice.com parent company? :)

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