Pros: i was paid a very good hourly rate
Cons: the paragon liaison manager is manipulative, dishonest, and absolutely refuses to accept any responsibility whatsoever for his misleading communications
I was contacted by Paragon in April, 2012, having never heard of them previously. They spoke enthusiastically of a pending project at the division headquarters of a very well known multinational company in my city. I had a full-time position at the time, with salary and benefits, but since my company had just been bought out, and I was uncertain of – more... my continuing position, I accepted Paragon's offer and resigned my position.
Three days before I was to begin, Paragon called me to say the project had been deferred 3 months. At that point, I had no job.
Fortunately for me, a position came open on another project at the same site, and I participated in that for 3 months until the original project finally got underway.
I discovered that the Paragon Project manager was an individual who insisted on creating a cheerful atmosphere, no matter what the facts. If problems arose, he would listen to you for about 45 seconds and then interrupt, attempting to put a positive spin on what you had just said--but he would not effectively address the problem. Indeed, he sometimes made it worse: in a conference call between a client manager and two Paragon contractors, including me, the Paragon manager inaccurately said a client company manager was "really impressed' with the work being done, when in fact the client manager had specific dissatisfactions that we didn't even know about! The client manager tried to express himself on that point, and the Paragon manager simply talked over him and continued the meeting.
Neither my fellow contractors nor the client company management had any confidence in him, and in fact, he was removed from the original project, even though he was supposed to be Paragon's overall liaison for this project! Nevertheless, Paragon retained him in his position.
In June, this man invited himself to a breakfast meeting that I had actually scheduled with someone else and, upon hearing me mention that this was a short-term assignment, interrupted to assure me that Paragon wanted a long-term relationship with me and even promised to speak with Paragon HR to convert me to full-time, salaried status.
He then dropped the matter for 3 months and ignored my attempts to follow up. When I finally caught up to him, he admitted, sheepishly, that conversion wasn't possible for a technical writer. "However," he assured me, "we'll still want you for other projects after the first of the year" (my project was scheduled to end December 14).
On October 22, several Paragon executives came to my city for a "town hall" meeting. It was held at a nice restaurant at their expense (but 20 miles from where most of us lived--they ignored our suggestions for more convenient locations), and they gave us a presentation about the company's progress overall, but were noticeably cagey about whether there would be more work for any of us after the first of the year. Indeed, when another Paragon contractor who had been there longer than I had spoke up and said he had never been counseled on a career development path, as Paragon had promised him, one of the executives said "Yes, we're sorry, but that's just the way it is sometimes."
The executives then asked us about our personal interests--e.g., movies, hiking, etc.--and talked some about their own. For instance, one VP's daughter was getting married in Louisiana. But at no time did they ask us what it was like to be Paragon contractors, whether we were getting the support we needed to do our jobs, and whether we had any suggestions for Paragon for improvement. It simply never seemed to occur to them that we, the people doing the actual work on their client sites, had anything of value to offer in the way of feedback on the actual work situation.
While at Paragon, I continued to hear from recruiters about other positions, but I turned them down, assuming, from what I had heard from the previously mentioned manager, that I would still be on site after the first of the year. I realize in retrospect that I was foolish to rely on him.
On Monday morning, December 10, as I sat in a government meeting room with a pool of prospective jurors, I checked e-mail on my cell phone and found a letter from Paragon HR telling me that since my project was ending, I would be released that Friday. Needless to say, I was very surprised and called the manager's cell. He did not respond. That afternoon, I responded with an e-mail setting forth the particulars above, and suddenly, the manager saw fit to contact me. We spoke on the phone and he said "But after all, you knew all along that your project would end in December. Anyway, I regret that communication was not as crisp as I would have liked..."
The lesson from this is that when dealing with Paragon, you should proceed at your own risk. Their actions show that they are indifferent to the welfare of their contractors but will say absolutely anything to enlist the contractors' cooperation. Indeed, they even tried to induce me to recruit colleagues to work on the project mentioned above. Thank goodness none of my colleagues were available when I contacted them, or they, too, would be sitting home this morning unemployed. – less