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Help coping with a cantankerous old man of an employee

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Hi, guys!


As the title suggests, I work with a cantankerous S.O.B. at a startup ethanol group. This person is the "project designer". He has a large chip on his shoulder when it comes to engineers or people with engineering backgrounds because he learned his lessons in the "School of Hard Knocks" and thinks that everyone else "just doesn't know what they're talking about". I'll give it to him that he will forget probably more than I will ever know about the process of making ethanol; it is a given. The problem that I have with him is that he tells absolutely EVERYONE that walks through the door that I don't know what I am doing when it comes to programming. I admit that I have never written a program for an ethanol plant, however, I have been a programmer and employed as such for an upwards of 8 years for companies like Wilson Sports, Anheuser-Busch, etc... Needless to say; I've written a few lines of code in my day. With that being said, I have been very open with the owners about my lack of experience with "ethanol" but being as I'm quite good at learning new things, I was given the responsibility of the project with the anticipation that in certain, complex areas, I may need to bring in some extra help for a day or two to help me get through the process.


-With all that being said, I've come a major point of contention with this other person because any salesperson, employment candidate, or engineering firm for an unrelated process that walks through the door, he's wasted no time in asking them for their help and repeatedly said "This guy (referring to me) is good, but we still need to get him trained... do you know any REAL programmers?"


I'd like to say that this ISN'T an ego thing as much as I know it probably has a lot to do with it... but does anyone know other than what I did today, which was just going off on him telling him to lay off telling people those things, what I ought to do? The future of my job as well as several other's depends on the cooperation between this person and I. -So knocking him in the head and burying him in a shallow grave is out... LOL


-Any ideas are welcome! -Sorry this was so long...

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Well going off on his isn't likely to help. It will only confirm in his mind that you are difficult to work with and thus not qualified for the job.


If you two must work together (and in reading your post it sounds like it is) then you'll have to try to find some middle ground in order to make the project a success.


If you can stomach it, you could ask him for his help and advice. It's a blow to your ego and stroking his, but it's a game that has to be played sometimes in the ugly corporate world. I do it at work all the time when I need something from somebody but they are being difficult about it. You try the old "Hey I know you're really good at this stuff and you are a busy person. Could you bring me up to speed on the finer workings of ? It would really help me out" I know it's no fun but you are taking one for the team so to speak.


Another option is to ask your boss or supervisor for advice. I would imagine you aren't the first person to have difficulties dealing with this guy. So you may as well take advantage of the difficulties that others have faced and find out what works and what doesn't. Put it to your boss as "I'm having trouble getting on the same page as this guy and I'm not sure why. He seems to feel I'm not up to par but I really need his input. Can you help me with some tips and ideas on the best way to communicate with him?"


Does this help?

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I realize it sounds cliche, but the best thing to do is to prove him wrong by doing your job well.


I am an engineer, as well, and my boss often undermines my experience when talking to others. Like I don't face enough of an obstacle being female in a male-dominated industry, he will tell customers that "Oh, Kate worked on that, so let me check that and make sure it's what you need." Invariably, he redoes all my work and finds out I was right to begin with. What ends up happening is that the customer realizes this pretty quickly and comes to me directly rather than go through my boss and give him the opportunity to doubt my work.


edit: my boss is also a cantankerous old man of 64 and has worked for this company since before he got his degree.

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I think he is just feeling the stress and is not sure of himself (his own insecurity's), how fare is the design at this stage, are you still in the design stage of the plant or are you looking at the automation of the plant design or the normal day to day operation and production monitoring of the plant. ("plant simulations design" or "plant operations and production controls and monitoring processes design")

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He, is not an engineer (neither am I; I've got my degrees in computer science and also have a CCNA from Cisco... trivial; but that's where I'm at) He seems to think that everyone who has any type of formal education "doesn't know what they're talking about" when it comes to ethanol plant design.


-To answer your questions, we are nearing 75% completion of the actual construction. I'm working with the electrical and chemical P.E.'s right now as well as this man to begin implementing the devices and instruments for the automation. I expect to have a T.o.O. to begin in the next week to 10 days with basic motor control programs to establish base-functions. -Since the plant is a refurb/refit from the 80's there's a large void in technical data; which this guy is actually good at. He's impossible to work with when going over P&ID's or anything that requires him to commit to a decision though.


-I just don't understand what berrating me in front of all these other folks has/is accomplishing for him? Blah!!!!

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He's clearly intimidated by you..what does he want to accomplish? maybe he wants to get to you to the point of making you leave idk, so just let it slide and like someone mentioned earlier just do your job and ignore him, don't waste any of your time analyzing his comments or arguing with him...just don't take him seriously, he's insecure...

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When you encounter an entrenched, immovable object, you can either plow around it or blast it out of there.


Since this guy is going nowhere, just plow around him. Recognize that he is trying to score a hit, so don't give it to him. Next time he says that to someone, just laugh at him. Other people will get the point that he is being rude or just think it's a joke and ignore him.


Show your boss and the company what you can do and ignore him. Everyone knows this guy is obnoxious and they also probably know that he does this kind of thing to new people and that it doesn't mean anything. So plow around it and rise above it and don't let him bait you and bring you down to his level.

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