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I am working for a US-based consulting firm. They have employed me at their client location based on corp to corp contracts. My employer is vendor to client. I have to report to a manager on the client side. The client team has other team members who are from other vendors.

My initial assignments were successful and I got good reputation and reward for my work. The third assignment I have to work with another colleague, let us say his name Sam. Sam was from another vendor ("Vendor B") and he is already in bad books of my boss due to some reasons. While I was working in that project Sam delivered poor quality work and gave less support and some times not even join the scrum calls. At one point there was an issue occurred the module that we have delivered and which was escalated to top management. Team which investigated this concludes that the root cause of the problem in Sam's code. Sam was at home Country at that time and supposed to support project remotely. However Sam didn't respond and didn't support at required levels. This incident exposes Sam's work and his weak points to my boss again. My boss asked me about Sam's work and the support I got from him. I tried to be as neutral as possible, but at the end of the session I had no option to accept that quality of Sam is buggy and the support that we got from him is less than the required.

After a month my boss (the client) fired Sam from the project. Sam quit his employer (vendor B to the client). After this incident I got different treatment from those of my team members who were working for Sam's employer. I am not sure what was happened behind the scenes

I am facing the following problems:

  • I am not getting any cooperation even 5 mins time and patience from them.
  • They are avoiding any communication with me, and avoiding letting me be involved with their work.
  • Any small mistake from my side they show to others with a magnifying glass.
  • Any small suggestion or review comment from me on their work (whenever my boss asks me to provide such) they defend heavily.
  • They demand all sorts of communication to be written and documented.
  • If I take any attempt to learn more about their work they ask why are you interested etc.

Totally I can say they see me as an enemy instead of a helping team member.

I discussed this problem with my boss. He listened and assigned different modules where we have less scope for communication or involvement on each other's work. However, nothing further has been done to improve the situation.

I am still feeling these misunderstandings should be diffused and restore healthy feelings and opinions in the team.

How can I diffuse these misunderstanding and restore healthy work relation with my collegues?

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    What did Sam specifically say about you when he was canned? Specifically, in what way did he say that you were the cause? What action and inaction did he blame you for? – Vietnhi Phuvan Dec 18 '14 at 10:03
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    "Presumably their employer warned them to be cautious with me." Don't presume/assume. Many other things can have happened, like Sam talking to them, or them drawing incorrect conclusions on their own. It's not very relevant to your issue, but you should never communicate that assumption (you already did here), because if it's incorrect people this will make you look bad. – Jan Doggen Dec 18 '14 at 15:30
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    Going along with Jan, I think the far more likely situation is that Sam was friends with the other employees and gave them a different perspective on what happened. Welcome to office politics – NotMe Dec 18 '14 at 15:44
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There are three aspect to this that I think bear talking about separately.

a. Your relationship with your team members

b. Your relationship with you boss/company

c. What the end effect is for the customer/client

Let's actually go in reverse.

c. Without talking about your feelings or how it effects you. How is this effecting your customers and clients(and by extension the profitability to your company)? I can't quantify this but I would recommend that you take some time to try and quantify this from your perspective. This will be helpful when you go to your boss with why this is a problem which leads to...

b. It sounds like your company and your boss are happy with you and your work. Going to your boss with 'I feel' statements is dangerous. While your situation is complex and your frustrations are understandable it's also something that can seem like a 'Babu is complaining' instead of 'This is an actionable issue'. These problems seem like a true disaster waiting to happen, depending on the relationship(who leads the project? which company is the 'contractor' in this situation and which is the 'in house' company?) this is something that could potentially damage your company's relationship with your client. I would approach your boss again but this time I would come with direct, actionable issues. If the other team refuses to meet on something - that's actionable. If the other team is holding you to a higher level of accountability then they hold themselves - that's actionable. Come to your boss with both the problem and potential solutions. Your supervisor cannot change how anyone feels, but they can set expectations for a working environment that could mitigate many of these issues.

a. This sounds mean but... get over your uncomfortable-ness with the other team. When a member of a team gets fired, it is understandable that they would close ranks. They certainly weren't told by their company why he was fired and they are potentially his friends/peers which means he has probably said some things about why he thinks he was fired(which is probably totally at odds with reality). If my coworker was fired, even for a logical reason and perhaps especially for work-related reason(ie not producing, poor quality output, etc), it would be a pucker moment for me as it would be for most people. Many of their responses, closing ranks, higher scrutiny outside their group, attempting to discredit the person who was part in getting this coworker fired, is natural(if unpleasant) in that light. So how do you deal with it?

Their requests for more formal methods of communication is actually beneficial to you and I would embrace it whole heartedly. When you have a question or need a conversation email it. That way there is proof of a time-line when you made the request(in case they don't fulfill it) as well as the methods and professionalism it was made with.

Additionally I would recommend pushing for a formalization of the 'contracts' between your teams. What is expected of you and your company. What is expected from them and their company? What do you guarantee to deliver to them, what do they guarantee to deliver to you? These things aren't meant to divide teams(internal teams in my org have similar formal 'contracts') rather they are meant to solidify everyone's expectations("Didn't support enough" isn't a helpful response. "Didn't meet the expectation blah" is something actionable.) Ultimately these 'contracts'(to clarify I mean contracts in a non legal sense but in a expectation setting sense) foster trust between the teams because everyone knows what is expected of them and what they can expect from others.

Speaking of teams... In theory you are all on the same team because you are all working on the same product but in their eyes you are now on separate, potentially competing, teams. Don't expect them to have your back and treat them as you would an external but necessary team. The caveat to this is directly in response to "If I take any attempt to learn more about their work they ask why are you interested etc." Because the answer to that is "We are all on the same team, by understanding how you do things I can make all of our lives easier" When it comes to communicating with them and their company "We are all on the same team" is absolutely the attitude you should take.

It can be truly frustrating to have others use a magnifying glasses on our mistakes and flaws(or even disagreements on implementations of specific ideas). But this is another thing you can embrace. If you are professional and keeping your boss in the loop about the situation AND demand the same high level of performance from them that they are demanding from you then you should embrace the opportunity to defend and improve your ideas. The trick is to also expect if from them. If they have an issue with something you have done discuss it without ego. Whatever the decision uphold it and push that same expectation forward.

Finally. I think it's important that you take a bit of blame for what happened with Sam. Not out loud, not to other people, but internalize it a bit. You mention what Sam did but you don't mention what you did. Did you bring this lack of support, buggy code and issues to your supervisors early in the process. Early enough that something could have been changed? Not doing this is a failing on your part. A much, MUCH lessor failing that "wrote buggy code and didn't support it properly" but still something that you should keep in mind for the future. When a team member fails it is often a failing of the whole team to some degree, and you were part of that team.

4

This is an awkward situation because you are a contractor and they are contractors for a different company.

Understand though that your first mistake wasn not escalating Sam's performance problem before it became a firing offense. When he first went home and stoppped coming to meetings, I woudl have probably shot a note over to his boss informally saying something relatively neutral like: "Hey Sam wasn't at today's meeting. Is everything OK with him?" This gives him a chance to fix

People are going to be wary of you because from their persopective everything was fine and then blam, you got him fired. They wonder if they are next. This is causing unprofessional behavior on their part which is stupid and childish of them because they are giving the client ammunitino to fired then for their non-cooperation. If I was the client, I would have cancelled the contract with this whole firm. Clearly they encourage unprofessional behavior.

However, based on what happened earlier, you probably shouldn't be the one to bring up the problem. What I am going to suggest may sound counterintuitive, but I have seen it work. I have used it effectively myself. At this point your best bet is to find anything they did right and praise it publicly to the client. You need to teach them that you will acknowledge good work. You need to teach them that you are not the enemy and that you do not consider them as the enemy. Even if they don't change their ways, they will look more petty than you to the client if you do this.

It would be best if you can get reassigned or get them reassigned to another project. For all of them to be acting this way may be that their employer is trying to make your employer look bad. It is best to get out of the middle of this if you can.

3

This sounds like a situation where you need to talk to your boss. If the others from Sam's company are making it difficult to do your work, then he needs to know this. Perhaps your boss can talk to the boss from the other company and try to sort things out. Depending on the laws in your country, they might not be able to explain to your coworkers why Sam was fired, but hopefully they can say with good authority that it is not your fault that Sam was let go. Even if the bosses can't say anything about Sam, they can say that your coworkers' unwillingness to work with you is damaging to the project and reflects badly upon them.

  • Maybe even have a sit down with your boss and his boss. No good can come from a team that does not behave like a team. – Brian Dec 18 '14 at 14:51
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How to diffuse misunderstandings and rumors about me in the work place?

A two-pronged strategy will be most effective.

  1. When someone says something untrue about you in your presence, correct them. But keep your composure and remain dignified. If your lose your composure in such a moment, some people may be tempted to tease you in the future.

  2. By default, do your work, do it well, and don't think about the rumors. If you don't react to them, they will probably die a fast, natural death.

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    This answer addresses the question in the title, but doesn't address the actual body of the question at all. 1. There are no rumors being said to his face. The OP has inferred that there are rumors based on people's behavior. 2.The whole issue is that he is having trouble doing his work because the others aren't willing to work with him. – David K Dec 18 '14 at 13:22
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Write an email to those 'colleagues of Sam' (or even better: talk to them directly) and make a firm statement saying

  1. what you have noticed ("Correct me if I'm wrong)", and

  2. that you do not appreciate this kind of behavior from adults. Tell them your side of the issue in max. 3 sentences. You have made an effort to be as neutral as possible about Sam but you cannot (and don't want to) hide the facts that his work was below standards.

  • I would very much appreciate comments from the downvoters – Jan Doggen Dec 19 '14 at 18:20

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