I came across the term 'microaggression' during the HR session of my current company's new recruit on-boarding, and I think I am facing this behaviour in my current team. I would like to know the best way to deal with this.
Some background about my situation:
- I was recruited to this firm from overseas and am on a restricted visa that makes switching jobs difficult as the company I am switching to will need to transfer the visa sponsorship to their account.
- I moved to the UK recently (less than a month ago), so there is a good chance that I may be over-reacting. I am from an Asian country and in my earlier companies, I have worked with other European and American counterparts.
- There is a probation period of a few months, so I should be careful not to cause waves.
- I am male and I look younger than I am. Most people I meet (in London in general and at the workplace) tend to ask how old I am within a few minutes of meeting me.
- The project I am on has 3 other people who are all in Director-level roles. Two guys are in sales oriented roles. 1 guy is a technical guy in a director role.
The following are some instances that make me feel unwelcome (subjective, of course):
- Lack of eye contact and exclusionary behaviour: I am used to working in flat teams without hierarchy. In this project, I have noticed that very often its 3 of us in a meeting room with the 2 other guys talking to each other with no one making eye contact or even angling their body towards me. If someone's laptop has to be swivelled around to show something on the screen, the angle is usually such that it is not visible for me at all.
- Suspiciously low pleasantries towards me: Each member in the team is new (haven't worked with each other before) and I noticed that during the first few meetings, the volume of small-talk that came my way was suspiciously low. For instance, A asked B where B was from. A did not ask me, the only other guy in the room, the same question, even though A is meeting both B and myself for the first time.
- Telling me how to do my job: A, B, and C tend to keep telling me how to do something even though it isn't their area of expertise. It's like going to a chef and telling him how to prepare a dish rather than specifying how you want the dish and letting it up to him to figure it out. This behaviour is grating for me since I am used to working with more freedom, and also because none of the other people know what they are talking about. I noticed that they don't do this shit with each other.
- Selective hearing: I say something and am ignored. A few minutes later, someone else says it and everyone thinks it's the best thing since sliced bread.
- Interruptions and derailments: I am interrupted and the conversation heads off on a tangent before I have completed more than a few sentences. Someone brings the conversation back on track and conveniently take off from where I was interrupted while forgetting that I was the original speaker.
- Not included in team recognition: Once something is accomplished and if A and I worked on that task together, I am usually not included in the praise. It's 'Hey, A this looks great!' not 'Hey guys this looks great!' even though A and I are sitting next to each other.
Plan of action:
- Call them out now: I think this is risky because in my experience shitty work places never get better. The risk is high and there are no return other than a moral victory. During probation they can kick me out with a week's pay. Also, I just joined and this is my first project.
- Call them out smartly: Say stuff like 'Excuse me, I wasn't finished' or 'I am sorry, your suggestion sounds very similar to what I said before. Is there some nuance that I am not getting?'. This could work, although it requires skill which I do not possess in abundance.
- Work on the next switch while laying low: This makes sense to me, even though implementing it would require mental discipline. It lets me leave on a neutral note (other than HR being miffed).
What do you guys think?
Additional Information (based on questions in comments)
- How do I fit into the team: I am a tech guy recruited at a senior level (below manager). Perhaps I am seen as having very little sales-oriented knowledge. My role is to assist the sales team using my programming skills.
- What is my relationship to the tech director guy: Honestly, I do not know. This guy says he is not a programmer but is able to pull up code from the internet that promises an easy solution to sales. Then he takes the credit and hands over the task of actually developing the full working solution to me. This results in me having to work on technology that I do not have experience with, thus learning from scratch, while also having to deliver results. I have tried suggesting that we divide the work between ourselves to him, but he dismisses that.
- Is there racism: I don't think so because one of the sales directors is the same race as me. The other sales director and the tech director are the same race although not the same nationality.