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Alright, I work as a Data Scientist and here goes my situation. About a month and half ago, I was 'pulled into' an ongoing project led by a Mechanical Engineer also a Subject Matter Expert (SME) in this case. I was expected to take over a not so well going project and look into building some data driven statistical models from my side.

At the project beginning, I was displeased by the ill-organized way of working of the team, mainly by the SME himself. There was little to no plan about how do we end up with a working tool but instead there were 3-4 ongoing workstreams. The project also never had a Terms of Reference and concrete goals with deadlines. Anyway, I highlighted it in some ways but largely choose to ignore it by assuming that the picture would get better with time. The topic also required me to learn with time, so I simply kept going.

While working with the team, it started appearing to me that the central cause of the poor state of the project is because it's poorly managed by the SME himself. On top it, I do not like his attitude in general. He is borderline passive aggressive (to which he says he is simply straightforward and comes off that way since English is not his first language) and very inflexible. I also do not find him supporting to the work that we are doing. I even do not find comfortable asking questions to him, since he usually replies with another question to me. I think he knows quite a bit about his subject matter but is extremely poor at handling a team. Somewhere, he also thinks Data Science to be a magic machine which only needs enough data to do something.

I cannot get my mind off this project and simple passive aggressive comments he makes during the meetings. I find working on the project very demotivating and simply wish if I could get myself out of the project. It's becoming stressful for me and I am thinking if anyone could suggest me what to do from here.

I have a few options here:

  1. Highlight this to the person who landed me up in the project. Should I ask her that I do not want to continue with this project anymore?

  2. I can talk about the project with my own manager. He is quite a supportive person and I have already hinted this issue to him once.

  3. Or suck it up and keep working, which I already dread very much.

I feel like I have a right and few reason to speak up, but what I am not sure is whether it will be professional for me to talk about it so openly? Would it hurt my reputation in anyway in future?

I am hoping my situation was clear and someone can help with their experience.

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    Go with your option (2) first. Have you talked to your manager and tried to get his inputs ? Jun 22 at 6:35
  • I have mentioned this a week ago (although not with so much details) or so. He suggested me to start by proposing a ToR from my own side about what can be done and how, which I am going to propose in next meeting. Problem is, even after all this, I am still not motivated simply because of the attitude of the project lead since I kind of know how he is going to behave which is uninspiring. Jun 22 at 6:40

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The main issue is you are allowing someone elses actions to dictate your morale. Morale should always be under your control. Everything else is just work and personalities. They're meaningless in the big picture. Easier said than done though, it's a skill to be learnt like any other.

Having said that I think you should take it up with whoever can get you taken off the project if it's toxic and affecting your peace of mind. The future ramifications shouldn't be a primary worry, because if it gets worse you will get yourself in trouble either through your work or bottling the frustration up and taking it out on others.

My personal remedy was to have activities that burn off any frustration I might get at work. This has worked well over time, but I have particularly thick skin.

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    Thanks for your consoling words. At least in this situation there is something I can improve in myself. I have known this and I wish I had a thicker skin. Jun 22 at 9:11
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    "Morale should always be under your control." I think I know what you mean, but presented this way is sounds weird. If I got a 50% paycut and you told me that the problem is my outlook on it and the morale loss is under my control, I'm not sure that's an easy sell.
    – nvoigt
    Jun 22 at 11:56
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    @nvoigt well... that is what I'm saying. I'd do something about the paycut, but it wouldn't impact on my morale or make me lose focus. It's just a problem to solve. It's not easy at first but it's just another useful skill that anyone can train themselves to over time.
    – Kilisi
    Jun 22 at 12:13

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