Project manager communication
Thread poster: Seamus Moran

Seamus Moran  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 12:00
Member
German to English
+ ...
Jun 14, 2016

I wasn't quite sure where to post this. I tied the translation agencies forum but it doesn't seem to be functional.

Anway, I am a bit disillusioned with how project managers sometimes to manipulate translators. Example: I just had a request to do a legal translation. I replied promptly. After half an hour the project managers says "Sorry, but the translator who originally translated for this client has taken on the job". I find this really disrespectful and it makes me angry that I have to work in such an industry. This industry often strikes me as a cattle market without any high standards of professionalism and that it is better transitioning to another industry with a higher profile and degree of professionalism.


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Michael Newton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:00
Member (2003)
Japanese to English
+ ...
Project Manager Jun 14, 2016

Seamus,
Everything you have said about project managers and the translation industry is correct. You have to be very thick-skinned and have lower expectations about PMs. They are rude, unreliable and untrustworthy.
You should try weaning yourself from agencies and go after the end-clients.


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Seamus Moran  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 12:00
Member
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Am trying Jun 14, 2016

Thanks Michael. That is my ultimate goal but right now I am transitioning from an in-house position. I generally get on well with PMs but I thought today's response from that PM was particularly brazen and manipulative.

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Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:00
Member (2014)
English to German
Yes, this happened to me twice, but ... Jun 14, 2016

... it happened 20 minutes after I had been assigned the project and the junior PM told me or telephoned and explained that a colleague assigned the job as well - I decided to overlook it and not hold it against them, unless this keeps on happening.

What I do find disrespectful is the way some agencies make demands and expect you to jump through several hoops for the "privilege" of working with them, at times I do feel treated like a lowly day labourer. This usually goes hand in hand with rates that are very borderline for me and when they then tell me that they will apply a hideous CAT scale and that it is my responsibility to keep their system up to date, then I usually let them know politely that this working relationship will not work.

[Edited at 2016-06-14 09:48 GMT]


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:00
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Don't take it too negatively Jun 14, 2016

Our industry moves at a fast pace -- basically, the same fast pace of end customers -- and changes and confusions happen. It simply comes with the job. PMs are human after all and can make mistakes.

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Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:00
German to English
Not just this industry Jun 14, 2016

I've found that some of the niceties in general social/business interaction have been eroding over the past 10 years. Concepts such as responding to a query, politeness, even simple things like "please" and "thank you" are going by the wayside. We tend to take more offense when dealing with project managers because it affects out livelihood.

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Mariano Saab
Argentina
Local time: 09:00
Member (2013)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Shrug it off and move on Jun 14, 2016

There are tons of PMs so we can't say they are all the same.
You know, I've got a few clients who send work to me all year round and after three years we get along marvelously. Heck, I received two handwritten letters in the mail from them (from the US to Argentina!). Sometimes we get too caught up and forget about human relations and creating rapport with these people we are constantly in touch with.
Ask them how their day is going, wish them a nice week and, next thing you know, you'll be "e-joking around" with them.

You were treated poorly and that was uncalled for; been there. I used to get upset about it at first but I learned to just shrug it off and move on. Life's too short.

Best of luck!



[Edited at 2016-06-14 14:46 GMT]


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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:00
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Learn how to deal with it! Jun 15, 2016

Seamus Moran wrote:

I wasn't quite sure where to post this. I tied the translation agencies forum but it doesn't seem to be functional.

Anyway, I am a bit disillusioned with how project managers sometimes to manipulate translators. Example: I just had a request to do a legal translation. I replied promptly. After half an hour the project managers says "Sorry, but the translator who originally translated for this client has taken on the job". I find this really disrespectful and it makes me angry that I have to work in such an industry. This industry often strikes me as a cattle market without any high standards of professionalism and that it is better transitioning to another industry with a higher profile and degree of professionalism.


Unfortunately, and as others have corroborated in this thread, such behavior is all too common among project managers. And my experience has been that the larger the agency, the higher the likelihood of inconsiderate, misleading, and outright deceitful behavior.

You therefore need to always be wary of this possibility, while remaining polite and professional at all times (not always easy to do!). The main tack that I have taken in this regard is imposing my own time limits for assignment of any proposed job and also (if I really do not have the time or patience for e-mail exchanges) making clear that my offer is non-negotiable.

The worse my experience with a given PM, the less likely I am to respond to their urgent e-mails, especially if I am in the middle of doing something else. And in cases of chronic offenders, I do not respond at all.

Acting in this way does not always result in my getting the work in question, but it does preserve my sanity and minimize the wasting of my time, while serving notice to PMs that I have no tolerance for bullshit.

If you do not take similar measures, then you are opening yourself up to having tons of your time wasted with nothing to show for it. Worst of all, offering yourself up as a doormat in this way will not make it more likely that you will, in the long run, end up receiving assignments as a result of these interactions.

[Edited at 2016-06-16 03:42 GMT]


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Texte Style
Local time: 13:00
French to English
What's the problem here? Jun 16, 2016

I would say that it's no big deal unless you had actually made headway with a translation.

Maybe your pride took a fall when you realised you were not the agency's favourite translator but I think it's quite rare to be in that position, and it only really happens with smaller agencies where they like to assign particular translators for particular clients, to keep to the same style. In the large agencies, it's all really impersonal, the PMs don't even get to always work with a particular client either. Style and size seem to be mutually exclusive.

This agency sounds rather badly organised, but only half an hour had lapsed, it's not like you could have completed much of the translation. If you had had time to do more, then you could tell them you would charge for what you had done.


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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:00
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
The "big deal" here is having one's life in abeyance for a significant period of time Jun 16, 2016

Texte Style wrote:

I would say that it's no big deal unless you had actually made headway with a translation.

Maybe your pride took a fall when you realised you were not the agency's favourite translator but I think it's quite rare to be in that position, and it only really happens with smaller agencies where they like to assign particular translators for particular clients, to keep to the same style. In the large agencies, it's all really impersonal, the PMs don't even get to always work with a particular client either. Style and size seem to be mutually exclusive.

This agency sounds rather badly organised, but only half an hour had lapsed, it's not like you could have completed much of the translation. If you had had time to do more, then you could tell them you would charge for what you had done.



For example:

I am contacted by a large agency at 5:00 p.m. regarding a 7000-word translation that is due the next morning. I take the time to review the file (which takes even more time if I have to do so by accessing an ftp site) and write back with an offer. I wait 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, wondering if I will have to alter plans and load up on coffee in order to get the job done. After 45 minutes, I can safely assume that I will not get the job. In the meantime, a significant amount of my attention and energy has been devoted to gearing up in the event that I did end up being assigned the project in question. After all, readying oneself for 7-10 hours work unexpectedly in the early evening is no easy task.

In such cases (including others far less dramatic) it is reasonable to expect the agency not to leave the freelancer hanging. What is objectionable here is not the fact of not being offered the job, but having to wait an inordinate amount of time to find that out (and also, in Seamus's case, of being presented with an excuse that makes it clear that he was viewed as some sort of easily disposible last resort, despite the fact that he quickly responded to the offer and waited patiently to have his proposed fee confirmed).

This is very common behavior among large agencies, and it is very inconsiderate. In many instances, PMs of large agencies appear to have no compunction about lying outright. And that is why freelancers need to protect themselves against such abusive conduct along the lines I outlined in my previous post.

I agree with Texte Style that the interaction with large agencies tends to be very impersonal. But this should not be an excuse for displaying gross lack of respect toward freelancers.

[Edited at 2016-06-16 20:59 GMT]


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Huw Watkins  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:00
Member (2005)
Italian to English
+ ...
And the up side Jun 17, 2016

Robert Forstag wrote:



Texte Style wrote:

I would say that it's no big deal unless you had actually made headway with a translation.

Maybe your pride took a fall when you realised you were not the agency's favourite translator but I think it's quite rare to be in that position, and it only really happens with smaller agencies where they like to assign particular translators for particular clients, to keep to the same style. In the large agencies, it's all really impersonal, the PMs don't even get to always work with a particular client either. Style and size seem to be mutually exclusive.

This agency sounds rather badly organised, but only half an hour had lapsed, it's not like you could have completed much of the translation. If you had had time to do more, then you could tell them you would charge for what you had done.



For example:

I am contacted by a large agency at 5:00 p.m. regarding a 7000-word translation that is due the next morning. I take the time to review the file (which takes even more time if I have to do so by accessing an ftp site) and write back with an offer. I wait 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, wondering if I will have to alter plans and load up on coffee in order to get the job done. After 45 minutes, I can safely assume that I will not get the job. In the meantime, a significant amount of my attention and energy has been devoted to gearing up in the event that I did end up being assigned the project in question. After all, readying oneself for 7-10 hours work unexpectedly in the early evening is no easy task.

In such cases (including others far less dramatic) it is reasonable to expect the agency not to leave the freelancer hanging. What is objectionable here is not the fact of not being offered the job, but having to wait an inordinate amount of time to find that out (and also, in Seamus's case, of being presented with an excuse that makes it clear that he was viewed as some sort of easily disposible last resort, despite the fact that he quickly responded to the offer and waited patiently to have his proposed fee confirmed).

This is very common behavior among large agencies, and it is very inconsiderate. In many instances, PMs of large agencies appear to have no compunction about lying outright. And that is why freelancers need to protect themselves against such abusive conduct along the lines I outlined in my previous post.

I agree with Texte Style that the interaction with large agencies tends to be very impersonal. But this should not be an excuse for displaying gross lack of respect toward freelancers.

[Edited at 2016-06-16 20:59 GMT]


...is that you work from the comfort of your own home with no commute, no road rage to deal with, no line supervisor breathing down your neck. You largely pick your own schedules and can refuse work if you feel you need to. You can ask for modifications to the conditions of a project, you also, to some degree, set your price and working hours. If you are anything like me, you also have a loving wife to cook you a nice lunch and even bring you the occasional coffee. You have the privilege of weeding out the 'bad agencies' or, if the mood really takes you, of being blunt right back at the PM without being sacked by a tyrannical boss. Not good for business but you are free to do it if you want. You also choose the tools you prefer to work with AND, best of all, you work daily in those lovely languages you spent your life being passionate about and many long hours learning.

Pros and cons, my dear fellow, pros and cons.


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