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Some of our team is located in the US. In someways there is a lot to learn in my job. However, I am facing the following problems regularly:

  1. For any tasks within the work profile, the US guys discuss the details amongst themselves and design a roadmap. When they bring the topic up for discussion with us we face incredible resistance my team tries to discuss an alternative plan. It feels like they have already made up their minds and they just shoot us down.

  2. When someone on my team asks for clarification or a definition regarding the work, they are met with a response like "you should have already known it" or "please do not waste my time on this."

  3. When we bring up something, the US team objects to it saying we are not being precise/concise in our description.

I used to take great pride in my work but now my self-esteem is lowering and I am not as proud of my work as I was before.

How should I get out of this? I am unable to find a similar work profile with good pay anywhere else.

How should a situation with combative co-workers be handled?

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closed as not constructive by squeemish, Matt Ridge, Jeff O, Oded, Sahil Mahajan Mj Oct 26 '12 at 9:47

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
Do both teams meet daily? We have fixed this before by doing 'daily stand ups'. –  Craig Nicholson Oct 25 '12 at 19:37
    
I don't really have an answer for you, but you may find the answers to this question interesting and possibly related: How do Programmers in the West see programmers in the East?. I know from experience that some programmers in the US view Indian programmers with a negative stereotype, and think they have to spell out how every single little thing needs to be done (think its related to cheap outsourcing). Its possible there are culture differences as well that are leading to some misunderstandings. –  Rachel Oct 25 '12 at 20:04
    
I think the problem is we do not have enough information about your situation. Do you have an onsite manager/lead/supervisor? Where does the person who has the final say about the project reside? It sounds like the roles of the US is to gather requirements for your group in india, then validate that what you produce meets them is that correct? –  ReallyTiredOfThisGame Oct 26 '12 at 12:50
    
@CraigNicholson Both the teams meet periodically. The periodicity changes frequently. –  Neer Nov 4 '12 at 23:25
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@Neer you have to give us more of a context that I asked for in my comment. If you did I would support reopening –  ReallyTiredOfThisGame Nov 5 '12 at 2:06

4 Answers 4

I wonder if we work in the same place as I described in this answer: What does "politics" mean in a corporate environment? :).

There are two things you should do before you decide to 'get out'.

  1. Understand their reasons.

    These things can be multiple: unrealistic deadlines, their managers hovering over them 9-5, etc. People are rarely @ssholes for no reason. For example, I worked with some people in the US whose stay in US depended on them keeping their jobs. This caused them to excessively and paranoically play the blame game any time something went wrong. This is by no means an excuse, but in gaining this understanding it helped me figure out a way of getting along with them.

  2. Propose a process change.

    Distributed teams more so than adjacent teams need to have scrums/good documentation/etc. Voice your concerns that you are not in the loop, not part of the decision making, and that this is impeding the performance of the team. If the immediate managers on the other side don't respond to this, then you escalate.

    Every time they do something that ticks you off/impedes your work make a note of it. When you're not angry about it anymore, calmly bring it up as an issue that needs to be resolved. Doing this might take time, but in a large company persistance and documentation always bears fruits.

Finally, getting out might be the right answer if you don't want to play these silly games. But you need to to be conscious of the fact that you will periodically encounter the kind of people that you are dealing with here wherever you go. You can't spend your whole life running away from them.

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+1 for Understand their reasons. It will be hard to deal with them until you know why they are acting this way. –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Oct 26 '12 at 14:29

This sounds like a cultural problem, and I don't mean an Indian versus American cultural issue but instead a corporate culture issue.

In an organization with good, solid leadership, this type of behavior is discouraged. I speak from experience being in the same position as the US developers. There are several challenges that your company is going to need to overcome with some strong leadership. These all come down to collaboration:

Time Change:

If your developers are on the West Coast, they likely only get a few hours in the morning of productive time to meet with you. If you and the US developers aren't using this time to meet and collaborate, then you need to find a way to make this happen. Talk to your managers, both in the US and India. Let them know how you feel, but make sure you remain constructive and avoid assigning any blame. I suggest focusing on how you feel like you're kept out of the loop, and how it makes it hard for you to not only buy into the solution but also understand it.

Technology:

If you meet everyday, even if it's just to talk about what you did on the weekend, then both offices will feel more like part of a larger team. My guess, based on your description, is that your team and the US team are meeting in respective conference rooms. If each workstation isn't equipped with a headset and a web-cam, start by making sure everyone has access to technology for video calls. This allows you to collaborate individually with other developers in the US office, one on one.

Use Video Calls Instead of Chat:

Also, try to avoid chat. This is one I still struggle with, but in my Skype profile, it says "Just call me! Don't chat me as I might not see it.". Don't get me wrong, I love chat. I build chat software, but chat has its place, and it's not really that great for collaboration on topics that may involve some back and forth debate. It's easy to "disconnect" in chat and forget that you're talking to a real human being, and since there's no body language, something you type can be easily misconstrued.

If you don't have a camera, find one of your more laid back US colleagues and invite him or her to the conference room, alone, just the two of you. Start small. Commit to once per week, and then move forward from there.

Remember The Language Barrier:

American English and Indian English is drastically different. The first time a colleague in India said he "had a doubt about the code" I honestly got a little offended because in India a "doubt" is a question whereas in the US it means you don't think something will work. ;) Years later, I find myself using that terminology myself. ;) I'm sure my colleagues in India have been equally baffled by things I've said or that our US colleagues have said.

The cool thing about the video calls is you really get to know someone, even 8000 miles away. You can't do that in an "us vs them" meeting in the conference rooms...

Consider Moving On:

Times are changing, and with that management and leadership techniques must evolve. Sometimes leaders come from the freshers themselves or from mid-level employees. So, start small. Try to bridge the communication gap yourself and see if you can lead the leaders into supporting this change.

Ultimately, if management doesn't support you, then it may be time to consider finding another place to work. There are places out there that have figured this out! Adaptavant is one of them, and we're hiring. You'd have to relocate though, but you're not that far away. Disclaimer: I work in the US office.

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Thank You for your answer. IAs chad in his comments to my question mentioned probably a lot of details are missing. –  Neer Nov 4 '12 at 23:45
    
What part of the US are your colleagues located in? –  jmort253 Nov 4 '12 at 23:52
    
Thank You for your answer. As chad in his comments mentioned probably a lot of details are missing in my question. 1) Most of the team and the US manager are from my country. 2) I have tried various techniques that people have suggested to me. My efforts start seeming pushy so I have stopped putting in efforts. 3) I have escalated the issue with all the managers and directors but they seem to be having bigger cakes to bake. 4) I just passively work these days. All the other offers I have do not appeal me. So I feel stuck for now. –  Neer Nov 5 '12 at 0:07
    
They are from PA. –  Neer Nov 5 '12 at 0:07
    
We're on the west coast, in Oregon. –  jmort253 Nov 5 '12 at 0:14

First, since we don't know the situation it is hard to say but if they started off cooperative and slowly got like this - there is probably a really good reason you need to start digging it out. Perhaps your team did provoke it? Perhaps there is something you did they didn't like, that you are unaware of??

Nevertheless, your going to have to address it to uncover the source. (If they are just culturally biased, as Rachel pointed out in the comments about, then it is on them but you will still need to address that.)

In any case, don't let it get out of hand, nip it in the bud. Simply take a few minutes out in one of your meetings to go over how you guys are interpreting them and why it is an issue and counter productive to both teams. For all you know, they may have no clue and think they are doing a great job with your team.

A really good technique here when you go to talk with them is to remember to separate out your emotion from the "data" - and present them the "data", nicely.

In conclusion, after you address it, uncover the root cause and layout a solution - then you may feel better about continuing there. Best of luck.

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Someone at the top is controling this whether they know it or not. Your group should be getting the "tasks within the profile" before any meetings take place. This way, you can review and bring thought out solutions to the team meeting. Your group needs to request the problems that need to be solved so you can come up with solutions instead of having them dictated to you.

Of course they may not like how you do things, but they're not your boss. Or are they?

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