I've been working at an international company for just over seven years and for most of the time it has been an okay place to work. About three years ago, I was among the first people to start on a technology project that was essentially for de-risking the technology needed for an upcoming project. The project was fairly small at this point. After about a year, a new project started up to officially begin development on the next version of the company's flagship product. This project added everyone from the original technology project as well as bringing in a lot of additional people.

The flagship project has teams from multiple countries. Each country has a team that is working somewhat independently, with just a few people trying to coordinate the activity of the teams to keep them aligned. Because of timezone differences, some of the teams have very little overlap in working hours. Since we are all contributing to a common codebase, it is frequent that one team's contribution will cause trouble for another team. What's worse, is that this is a very high priority project and the schedule is slipping. Overall, this seems like a very bad recipe for breeding mistrust between teams.

Before this flagship project, I have always had very good performance reviews, and I thought I had a good relationship with my manager. During the course of the project, I've encountered somewhat 'bizarre' situations where I have been accused of breaking something in the codebase and causing time loss for the teams. This has caused uncomfortable meetings with my manager where I have had to prove that I didn't do it. I say bizarre because one time the accusation was that I had broken something on purpose. (Just for background, this is a complicated project, and almost everyone has inconvenienced someone else at least once. It is usually very minor things, and I have caused a couple.)

I would say I am sensitive to false accusations like this. I started looking for other jobs but didn't actually go through with it. Also, my last performance review was not as good even though I feel like I've been putting in more effort than before. I feel like this has damaged the relationship with my manager. To make matters worse, several months ago, I was pressured into temporarily relocating to one of the other countries for the rest of the year. Upper management thought with my experience, that I would really benefit the other team and this would help speed up the project.

This has been a really bad mistake for me. Being in the foreign country has made me feel trapped. My stress levels have increased, since I've lost my coping mechanism which was having a strong separation between work and life outside of work. After a phone call with my manager a few days ago, I now desperately feel like I need to leave this job as soon as possible. Instead of just being accused on doing things I shouldn't have, I'm now being accused of not doing things I should have. I'm not sure if this is coming from my manager directly or from someone back home, but I'm being accused of not scheduling more late evening meeting back home to support my old team. Ironically, this was in a late evening phone call with my manager. To be clear, I have supported my old team when they have asked for help, and I have taken late evening meetings. My manager said that I should be scheduling the late evening meetings to support the old team even if they haven't asked for help! I'm losing my mind!

tl;dr I'm working on a large, international, high-prority project for the company's flagship product. The project is behind schedule and is structured into teams per country, which seems to have caused rivalry, hostility, and finger-pointing. I feel like I've been unfairly accused of both doing and not doing certain things, and to make things worse, I currently am trapped in a foreign country after being pressured to temporarily relocate for the rest of this year. All of this is causing too much stress, and I feel like I have to get out.

As far as I see it, I have these options:

1.) Suffer through the stressful temporary relocation and then continue to work on the still stressful project that I can at least cope with. (Maybe the next project in a year or two will be less stressful, and I do like most of the people I work with.)

2.) End the temporary relocation early and then go back to the still stressful project. (I'm allowed by contract to come back early, but the risk is that this further poisons my manager against me.)

3.) End the temporary relocation early and try to switch to a different project or even different department in the same company. (This project includes almost the whole department. The other small projects just include one person each, so I don't know if this is a dead end.)

4.) Leave the company. (I have looked for jobs. There are a couple prospects in my area, but nothing concrete. I have a pretty good rainy day fund built up, so I would be okay if I didn't have a new job immediately.)

What should I do? Thanks for your advice.

  • 2
    Multiple teams across the globe contributing to the same codebase, PR are merged automatically without a code review and before passing a good battery of unit and integration tests? Hey man...you really have a problem there...there won't ever be a medium-size project which won't be incredibly stressful. If you can't live with it and you can't help to change it then it's definitely time to move. – Adriano Repetti Jul 1 '18 at 17:28
  • It seems you have all the information and choices laid out. We cannot help you to pick the right one for you. You will have to do that yourself. – nvoigt Jul 1 '18 at 19:51
  • @AdrianoRepetti, yes there are PRs and some tests. There are lots of holes in the system though. I have brought up suggestions on how to fix some of these problems (even early in the project), but most of them are still not fixed. – Luigi Jul 1 '18 at 20:21
  • Well, it's really really hard to manage any non trivial project without being reasonably sure you're not breaking something with an innocent PR. How can management expect a big project to succeed without these very basic measures to keep it healthy and to smooth integration? Also more formal boundaries between sub-modules will definitely help. We can't tell you what's best for you but IMHO this will continue to happen because one of the root causes will always be there. – Adriano Repetti Jul 1 '18 at 20:32

Here's my personal point of view: I work at a decent company, with decent colleagues and a decent boss. There is lots of work to do, but everything is handled without any stress. Which works very well, everyone is working hard and is working well together, producing the best possible results without stressing out. I had one other job offer where after having an interview with the CEO I called the agency and told them "not for me, I can do without this stress" - because their CEO was an absolute stresshead and I wouldn't have wanted to work with him.

Overall, I make enough money and enjoy my life.

If that is your goal, then go and look for a new job. Seriously this time, with the intent of leaving. Since staying with your company usually means falling behind in salary, you should be able to find something that pays the same or better. Just be careful in any interview, checking for signs that the new company might not be the most pleasant to work for.

And usually the fact that you decided to leave makes the old job easier to handle - because stress is mostly produced by yourself. Situations can be bad, but if you can say to yourself "I'm out here soon, I don't care about it", bad situations are much easier to handle. Like your boss blaming you for things that are not your fault, if you know you are leaving soon, you don't need to care about it anymore, making your life easier.

You shouldn't need to touch your "rainy days" fund, because as soon as you decided to leave, lots of the stress will be gone. The job is much easier if you are already emotionally separated from it.

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