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I joined a company from 1st April, 2021. My problem is a little bit complicated. My manager is remotely located in Australia. He has been so far nice to me and guiding me.

I did my PhD in chemistry and the company that I am working for is Biomedical Engineering in the UK. From the very first interview, I told my Hiring Manager (who is currently my manager) and other colleagues that I am not a biomedical engineer. However, I would learn the things necessary for the job and would contribute. My hiring manager has liked my attitude and gave me a task which I did it and after another two rounds of interviews with the other people, I got selected. The company said that they would train me accordingly for the first few weeks.

So I think I have not lied to anybody (be it CV or be it through the interviews).

When I joined the company, I got to know that they actually received a grant in collaboration with Academia, and 75% of my salary comes from this project. So now I need to go to this academic lab for experiments and the Project leader for this grant is a person who actually very less responsive to my emails, queries. My Manager suggested me to be proactive to learn the things and also I am allowed to ask questions to anybody of their corresponding expertise. Lastday, when I asked the Project Leader a question, she without an answer for the question, literally smirked at me and told me on my face that 'You do not have any background in the topic. I really do not know what your manager plans for you'. I literally felt insulted. I also came to know that I have to work with her in the future as my salary comes from the grant they received. I also came to know that she already gossiped with the other colleagues that I do not know anything. Altogether, it is very depressing for me. I can't deal with such people who are 'proud' about their expertise. (The project leader was also there in one of my interviews. So it is not that she did not know about this fact). Now, the problem is I do not have a problem with my Manager, however, if this Project Leader is the person that I have to deal with I do not think I can work with her. In my life, 5 years back, I had faced such character and my life had been hell at that time. I really do not want to happen it again in my life. Now, I have taken the decision that I am going to leave this job as I have understood the dynamics and workflow of this company.

My questions are: Do you think I should tell this to my Manager about her behaviour? Even if I do, I do not know how can he help me out as he will not be here in any case and I am obliged to work with her because my salary will come from the project she leads.

Please suggest me how I can leave gracefully. Should I leave only by saying that my background does not fit well ( to avoid any conflict) or should I state about this behaviour of her as one of the reasons to quit? However, I strongly feel I should let them know about this behaviour. But I am scared the company might misuse this against me as well by portraying me as a conflicting person when they would know that I am quitting.

I hope for your suggestions.

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    I would suggest it's premature to quit. Tell your manager some but not all. Leave the negatives to a minimum and completely leave out your personal fears and insecurities. The most important part to communicate IMO is the "I don't know what they think your role is" part. This is not entirely unusual with new hires in general. You may well find your place and they will figure out what your strengths are. Whatever pre-existing plans everyone imagined there were (probably varied) will likely adapt.
    – Pete W
    Apr 23 at 1:57
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    I have a feeling that this may not be about you specifically, but about your position, and that there's maybe a lot of office politics/personal frustration from this project leader. Have you tried confronting this person? Some people are "just" sometimes discharging their frustration through bullying without realizing it, and being confronted to it may ease the situation. Maybe something to keep in mind for next time you encounter a bully/bullying behaviour, as an alternative to escaping the situation
    – Laurent S.
    Apr 23 at 9:13
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Of course you tell your manager. Your manager needs to know about this. Remember that hiring you didn’t come for free, it cost your company significant money, which they will lose if you leave. Don’t worry about how money is moving, that’s something your managers manager and her manager will be worrying about. If the whole project is found at risk, you want to make sure that the person responsible pays for it, and not you.

Now if you decide to leave, then you can firstly use this situation as a training session how to cope with bullies. After all, there is nothing to lose if you’re leaving anyway. One reason why people don’t like sharing their knowledge is often because they don’t actually have much. Prepare for her insults and plan how to strike back. Make it enjoyable for yourself and unenjoyable for her.

Anyway, the rule how you resign from a job: You don’t tell anyone anything about your plans. You take your time finding a better position. You sign an employment contract that is legally binding for both sides. Then you give notice, and at the end of your notice you say goodbye. Follow these rules precisely. The first time anyone learns you are leaving is when you give notice.

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    +1, this is how you resign (which is what OP asked). But also, how you tell your manager is important. Make it clear where the problem lies, but keep it neutral. Like, "I asked questions per your advice but was told only that I lack the background to understand the area." Treat it as a problem with the process, even if the underlying problem may be with a personality.
    – B. Ithica
    Apr 23 at 7:30
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It sounds like you are working with a consulting company and the project leader had expected a domain expert in the topic to be assigned for the role which you are filling. Many clients have unrealistic expectations from consulting companies.

That's not necessarily an intractable problem and it definitely is not your fault. It's worth an effort to try to resolve, but don't take it personally if the project leader doesn't want to work with you and they try to get someone else for the role and bench you temporarily.

You probably asked a basic question and the project leader inferred, perhaps incorrectly, that you're not up to the task based on that question. They are probably wondering why they are paying a large amount of money for a consultant when they could have gotten a grad student to do the work instead. Indeed, it's probably a mistake for an academic institution to employ a consulting company for anything research related. That kind of consideration could easily come out as toxic behavior towards you.

If you feel you can handle the project, it's worth trying. I would. But it's also not even a month since you started, so if you want to leave, now is a good time. Of course, you should tell your manager what happened and what you perceive about the situation. They need to know. Whether they care or know how to handle it properly is another question entirely.

It's not unusual for consulting companies to have armies of freshly graduated but inexperienced smart people. Consultants get placed into corporate environments to solve problems for which the client does not have enough deployable resources. Experience is almost never an issue. If it were, virtually all large consulting companies would go out of business. The OP is in an unfortunate situation which is not their fault. The people at fault here are the client and the OP's manager who BOTH should have worked out expectations prior to bringing the OP on site.

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  • This. At the second paragraph the OP writes [...] I told my Hiring Manager [...] and other colleagues that I am not a biomedical engineer. At the fourth, the OP is complaining about the coworkers noticing this (what are they supposed to do? playing as if the OP was qualified?). Calling it "insulting" is a stretch: it is a reality that even the OP acknowledges. It is the OPs'task to do his best in the environment he is in; if he is a match "good enough" for the position it is something to decide by the customer. Notifying the consulting company may help to navigate the situation.
    – SJuan76
    Apr 23 at 7:46
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    Is it unrealistic to expect a consultant you are probably paying a multiple of what your own staff are being paid to know what they are doing from the start? I didn't think of this situation reading the OP but reading your answer it seems the situation you explain is possible. In which case I have sympathy for the person who expects an expert and gets a trainee. If true the fault lies with the OPs boss who is getting their clients to pay to train their staff.
    – Eric Nolan
    Apr 23 at 9:36
  • @EricNolan, it's not unrealistic, but IMHO the burden is on the client establish expectations up front and in-advance for who they want working the project. I feel at least half of the blame lies with the client and the rest lies with the OP's managment.
    – teego1967
    Apr 23 at 12:14
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    @EricNolan, arguably there should be enough accumulated experience of consulting companies by now, for clients not to have high expectations. The usual calculation by the client is that it is too expensive to develop a sufficient number of full-timers to meet their own needs, but they assume somehow that a reservoir of such staff exists footloose elsewhere, and that they can be had quickly and at a lower cost than hiring and developing a sufficient number of permanent full-timers.
    – Steve
    Apr 23 at 12:58
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    @Steve The project leader is probably not the person who decided to hire a consultant, but they are being forced to manage someone who is under-qualified for the role
    – thelem
    Apr 24 at 12:28
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Please suggest me how I can leave gracefully.

If you want to leave on as good terms as possible, then just quietly leave when you have found a new position and thank everyone for the learning experience. There is no upside to taking a swing at anyone on your way out. And it's a small World, making enemies is not worth it.

Your background is unsuited for the position, your manager isn't even on site and is unlikely to do anything positive for you if you're leaving.

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First off, do not react too quickly. Think things through. In many jurisdictions, you don't get unemployment benefits when you resign. I don't know if this is a factor for you, and it may not be, but I'm calling attention to that detail in case you had not considered it.

Second, tell your manager what happened. Your manager sounds pretty good. And you're a fully grown adult. You can't just walk away from your employer without telling your manager what happened. Nor should you stay and silently suffer without telling your manager what's happening.

Also, do not feel bad about the situation. If there was a mistake made, it wasn't yours, it was the mistake of the people who hired you. Note that it's also possible that no mistakes were made, and that they just couldn't find someone more qualified than you within the given time frame and budget, and that the project leader is just acting like an idiot. But either way, do not be apologetic about what happened.

Either the project leader needs to grow a spine and lobby to get you fired, or he needs to shut the F up and help you get up to speed. Those are his two options. Do not accept anything else. But in the meantime, you should probably restart your job search just in case things do not improve.

And yes, if the situation is toxic and if you still want to resign, by all means, go ahead and do that. I'm just suggesting you take a deep breath and sleep on that kind of decision, should you decide to go that way.

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    @DanielR.Collins, You're right. My answer sounded too absolute. I've since edited it a little. Apr 23 at 1:03
  • +1 Nice edit..! Apr 23 at 12:48
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My questions are: Do you think I should tell this to my Manager about her behaviour?

Unless you have evidence of this behavior to show your manager, simply telling them will not be very helpful.

What you should do is ask any questions to the project leader through email. This way if they are insulting and not helpful, you have evidence that you can present to your manager. On the other hand, if they are smart enough to not incriminate themselves, they may actually respond to your questions and help you out.

Even if I do, I do not know how can he help me out as he will not be here in any case and I am obliged to work with her because my salary will come from the project she leads.

Your manager can speak to this person or speak to someone who can speak to this person to correct their behavior. I would suggest to try this first before quitting on the first incident of conflict. In any job, you will have to deal with less than desirable people and quitting the job is not a good solution to this problem.

Please suggest me how I can leave gracefully.

If after trying all of this, the situation does not improve then you hand in your notice after accepting a new job offer and serve your notice period professionally. At that point, your manager and anyone else would already know the likely reason that you are quitting so there is no need to make up an excuse about your background. If your quitting, there is nothing the company can use against you as you are already leaving the company.

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    You make it sound like the project leader used a swear word. No, they didn't. They said this 'You do not have any background in the topic. I really do not know what your manager plans for you'. They're not going to deny saying that. It's probably the truth. And no, the manager needs to know about this. Either the OP needs more support, or they need a different project leader, or at the very least, the manager needs to know what's going on if the OP leaves so that the mistake doesn't get repeated with the next person they hire. Because if there is a mistake here, it was done by management. Apr 22 at 21:44
  • And a fourth possibility is that no one as qualified as the OP can be found in time, if the OP were to resign right now, for the project to be completed successfully, so management may tell the project leader to stop saying these things, or they might lose the OP and have to scuttle the project entirely. Apr 22 at 22:03

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