My workplace consists of a series of remote teams that are loosely connected by a singular goal. Each team has additional goals that they may prioritize above or below that singular goal. I was placed in a bridge position where I work on one team but get paid by a different team. These two teams are hundreds of miles away and their purposes are distinctly different. Occasionally, the team that pays me will ask for help with one of their additional goals like building a demo for another client. I try to be sensitive to their needs and participate.

The team where I work is an R&D group consisting mostly of PhDs who are at least 30 years older than me. The team that pays me includes people who are a year or two younger than me that is responsible for running some basic analysis. They don't have any PhDs or a research role, just get the reports out to the field. This group has experienced 75% turnover last year. The group where I work has had 0% turnover since they started three years ago.

As a member of both teams, I'm a bridge. There's been a pattern where the middle managers of the team that pays me have tried to avoid me as much as possible. This culture appears to have spread to the newer employees.

This culture really stood out to me when I sent an email, "how was the demo?", and received no response. A couple days before, I had spent over an hour helping them put together their demo. I found that they had gotten a good start but didn't have the guidance or background to complete the demo. I tried very hard to frame myself as their peer by pointing out things I didn't understand and explaining why I was reaching any opinions about how the demo should be completed. Noticeably, their team lead chose not to participate in this meeting.

When I was at an event with the team that pays me earlier this year, their COO said in front of that team lead that I was "smarter than all of us". I felt awkward and didn't say anything.

It's been an ongoing pattern where the team that pays me tries to undercut the team where I work. It's not been an enjoyable dynamic. The majority of the time, I can simply focus on doing my job. It's times when I put effort into something and get ignored that it really bothers me.

Is this situation salvageable?

  • When you help the team that pays you, is it always at their request? Or do you ever volunteer information / pointers / suggestions without being asked? And if it is at their request, do you only help with what they asked, or do you jump in and provide more robust help than they asked for? (Think about your answer, because this may be the key to the uncomfortable dynamic) – MealyPotatoes Mar 12 '16 at 14:33
  • When I help the team that pays me, it's been at the request of someone other than them. For example, their CEO asked me to help with the demo, not middle managers or their team lead. To your point, I may do more driving during our interactions then they would prefer. I'm not sure how else to complete the task well. – Tyler Mar 12 '16 at 15:01
  • @JoeStrazzere It does not include my boss. They middle managers try to avoid me because I tend to disagree with them. I choose not to disagree when their opinion doesn't negatively effect my work product. – Tyler Mar 12 '16 at 19:06

I don't think anyone here could say whether the situation is salvageable. However, in situations like these the best thing you can do is maintain clear and honest lines of communication.

If you have the time, and opportunity try to get more involved with these people.

For remote workers I believe that many companies use some sort of chat tools. If they do, and there's some sort of informal chat room, join it every once in a while and build a rapport with those guys.

Just be friendly and open, and do your best to provide the guidance they need.

However, at the end of the day, if you feel that their team leaders are poisoning your relationship with the team, you should bring it to the attention of your higher ups. Don't name names, however express a concern regarding the attitude of the two teams toward one another.

Good luck!


Remain professional, leave your need for recognition behind and focus on your work.

I work with several remote teams and individuals, I neither know nor care if they like me. If there are communication issues that impact on the work, I escalate it and resolve it. If it's just a feedback issue that doesn't impact on the work then I don't worry about it. It's not a beauty pageant


Whether coworkers like or dislike you matters a lot less than whether you can work with them, and they with you. This isn't high school; being a member of the in crowd doesn't matter as much. It certainly helps when people like you, since they're more likely to make an extra effort to help a friend. But if the relationship is respectful and everyone is working together on the business things, that's really all that's essential.

If you want them to like you as well, that's more an interpersonal question than a workplace question. Respect, responsiveness, patience when possible, sympathy when things are beyond their control, courtesy even when you disagree or have to put pressure on them -- treating them as you would want to be treated, or a bit less abruptly than that if you're on the Ausbergers spectrum as many engineering types are -- will go a long way.

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