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My employer is a vendor for a US-based organization that I work for as a contractor. The team consists of employees from client side, Employees from different vendors. I am one of the most senior people on the team. Recently client-side management has made some drastic changes. Below are their major changes occurred

  1. Fired Vice President(VP) and Managing Director(MD) and replace with new people.
  2. 75% of the work given to only one vendor. This is VP decision and not even the mangers or MDs which are under VP

Now this vendor who got work is adding his own new resources. Since then I've been seeing unhealthy changes in the team with a significant impact on morale. Communication between team members has become less transparent to the point where people are afraid to ask follow-up questions or give more details. It's getting hard to get people to cooperate or provide details for my day to day tasks without going above people's heads in the hierarchy. My team members are simply not willing to discuss concerns in an open and healthy manner. I've had trouble getting clear answers from the project manager and where I could previously get the information I needed from colleagues in person I now need to send endless emails which end up being CC'd to management. It feels like my team members have started competing with each other instead of working together.

All this is impacting my productivity and the quality of my work. Since the situation seems unlikely to improve, how can I ensure that my work doesn't suffer because of the team's low morale and uncooperative attitude?

Is there anything I can do to improve the situation as one of the senior team members even though I'm not part of the management structure?

  • This is awfully close to asking for situation-specific advice which usually isn't on-topic here. I'm having a hard time generalising your situation to something generic that other people could encounter. Can you clarify a core question here? Offshoring, low morale, lack of transparency and miscommunication are all separate problems so dealing with each of those is worth a question (or likely a book) on its own. – Lilienthal Jun 15 '16 at 19:51
  • Lilienthal, I have generalized as much as I can. Please remove close vote if you feel it is OK. If not please let me know how can I improve question – Babu Jun 15 '16 at 21:01
  • If you suddenly aren't getting details on tasks, and the project has moved offshore, is it possible your team/company is on the way out the door? – mcknz Jun 15 '16 at 22:02
  • @Babu It's a good improvement, but you're still vague about your goal: do you want to raise this issue with management? Do you want strategies on dealing with uncooperative teammates? A better way to get information when coworkers aren't giving you what you need? – Lilienthal Jun 16 '16 at 8:13
  • @Lilienthal, the question is perfectly valid. OP's client is experiencing outsourcing and as a result he is getting less cooperation because of morale problems. He wants to be more productive with this client. What are some strategies to do that? – teego1967 Jun 16 '16 at 10:36
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I have been on a project where the positions were competitively outsourced. This lead to a similar situation that you are in, where it was every man for himself (and woman for herself). Unfortunately the advice for this situation is very limited and near impossible to pull off since the problem is stemming from the culture of the workplace which has turned toxic. The easiest solution is to walk away and find a more friendly work environment. With that said if you want to stay and fight it:

Go directly to the customer and ignore all middle layers

The customer is the only person in this situation who will be willing to give you the answers you need to perform your job. This sounds simple at first until the customer tells you that the outsourced group has the information you need and they themselves don't know it. If you can get a customer to be your ally, you may be able to get them to interact with the outsourced group on your behalf. A heavily involved customer does carry secondary benefits since people typically play nicely with each other if the customer is in the room (does not always happen, but at least the customer quickly becomes aware of the problem and just how bad it is).

The second problem is if management does not want you interacting with the customer, and wants you to get all answers from them. Be diplomatic with management: "I always find it best to get answers directly from the source." Regardless of what they say be polite, and still go to the customer for your questions.

Make allies amongst your coworkers

You are not the only person in this situation. Your fellow coworkers are in it to. So find the ones you know the longest, have work the best with in the past, and strength those working relationships. The goal is to get them stronger than the toxic work environment, where they want to help you even if it is not in their best interest, because they actually care about you. Then when you get in a pinch hope that one of them has the information you need to get the job done. This also means returning the favor and helping people where it will leave you vulnerable for failure (failure including loss of employment).

Accept the Situation

No matter how much you improve the situation you will not be able to achieve the same level of quality and productivity as you once did before the change. In these cases accepting the situation with an attitude that I will be content with my best in this situation even thought I have done better work in the past. I will keep giving my all, even if it is not good enough.. A positive determined attitude can help with coping with the extra stress.

Help from outside the workplace

And I do not mean here, as in the SE. If you stick around you will be fighting a toxic work environment. To face it you will need a source of encouragement, strength, and compassion. Since the work place is toxic you cannot pull this from your work environment. You need to have people in your life outside of work who can provide this to you, otherwise it will leave you without the willpower to do the job.

In the end the only person who can fix this is the customer, but the people you interact with are not likely the same people who make the contract level decisions. Good luck.

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