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I work for a pretty well known (at least in the US) e-commerce website, where I've been for almost a year and a half.

Granted, I'm not performing as well as I should be (more details below), but I believe I've identified a main source of issues.

My group has a team in Singapore and is structured as follows:

  • 4 other engineers in the US and myself (also in the US) report to the director of engineering
  • 3 engineers in Singapore report to the manager of engineering in Singapore (let's call him Mr. Singapore, or MS) who in turn reports to the director (my manager), so essentially MS and myself have the same manager

I recently started working on a project with MS and things haven't been going very smoothly. I feel he's the sort of person who would throw anyone under the bus if it makes him look good. For instance...

  • When I'm working on a task and MS needs an update, he asks our manager for one instead of coming to me directly. This makes our manager feel that I'm not delivering on time or communicating well, even though we're within our agreed upon timelines
  • When MS visited the US, I set aside time to meet with him and talk about our project, which was a 3-4 hour brainstorming session and went well. However, when my manager and I were discussing my performance, he emphasized that I should proactively meet with visiting team members. When I told my manager that I already did, and that we had a 3 hour meeting, his response was "Really? That's not what MS told me".
  • I found a bug in the data that was collected by a process MS created (which my process ingests) and I emailed him (and him alone) about it. When he didn't reply after a week, I emailed him again at which point he said the problem was probably Process Blah, and that he would look into it the next day. It's worthy to note that my process cannot continue unless and until the data I get from his process is solid. A week later, he sends me an email, copies my manager and points out issues with my process being incomplete. I replied-to-all, attaching the emails I sent him, showing that I did tell him that the data he aggregated was stopping me in my tracks. In his subsequent replies, he conveniently omitted our manager in the emails.
  • I created a test dataset with unverified data - this is what I use to run tests against - to identify which process generated the bad data and is a starting point to move the process to the next stage. When MS asked me if I had any data, I pointed him to the test dataset and explicitly told him that the data is just test data and should not be trusted till I'm done verifying it. Two days later my manager comes to me, tells me that MS told him that my process is producing bad data and asks me why I released the data before verifying it.
  • I sent samples of my Matlab code to MS to see if he could help identify if anything was wrong with my code. Two days later, my manager asks me why my code is not checked in to the central repository, as MS was looking for the code and could not find it.

I was recently issued an official performance warning by my manager and while discussing the points in the warning, the project with MS came up a lot. It was a lot of things like MS reported my data was bad, my project code was bad, and my communication needed a lot of improvements, using the project with MS as the prime example.

Also important to note is that MS is one of the seasoned employees in the firm, having been around since the inception of the Singapore branch and is well known (and liked) by the C level executives.

Now I take issues with my performance quite personally. Granted, I made a lot of careless mistakes and I could have been more meticulous in my code but that's no excuse for the way MS treats me. My manager is a nice guy and a big believer in teamwork and would just ask me to talk directly to MS. I have talked directly with MS, had a good 3-4 hour meeting with him and yet he's gone behind my back to tell my manager that we barely met. I feel as though MS is the kind of guy who likes making others look bad in order for him to look good.

At this point, I feel defeated, my confidence is severely lacking, and I'm seriously considering leaving the firm. I'm pretty sure that more than half of the supposed issues with my performance were caused by MS's gimmicks.

Is there any recourse here besides looking for new opportunities? I really like the firm and I'm learning a lot (including a lot about dirty politics).

EDIT: MS is an American guy who went to Singapore to complete his PhD and joined the firm right out of his program. Just putting that out there to rule out cultural differences as an explanation for his behavior.

EDIT2: Would it make sense to voice my concerns to my manager or would that make me look petty? Based on a lot of answers/comments, I should start CC-ing my manager in emails. I should point out that I joined this place from a very corporate environment where everything was noted in email and sent across after meetings. The environment I'm in now is more of a startup culture where meetings are held as and when necessary and there are no formal meeting notes, so I abstained from creating minutes and sending them over. People here just walk over to other associates or IM them to notify them of anything. This would work well if people on my team weren't acting the way MS is.

closed as off-topic by JasonJ, The Wandering Dev Manager, Mister Positive, Michael Grubey, Chris E May 31 '17 at 13:46

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  • @Kilisi I was thinking slightly lower than the back, but.... yeah. – Retired Codger May 30 '17 at 20:04
  • @Kilisi - how is this comment constructive? OP has admitted that he (or she) could have done better, but the question relates to dealing with MS. – Craig May 30 '17 at 20:34
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    "Now I take issues with my performance quite personally. Granted, I made a lot of careless mistakes ... but that's no excuse for the way MS treats me." Think again about that. If you are "the guy that makes more careless mistakes than the rest of the team", that's not an excuse for you to be the first to be "downsized". It's a good reason,.from management's point of view. Ask yourself why your old manager transferred you to the Singapore team. I can think of one reason he might have wanted to get you off his watch and out of his hair, but you probably wouldn't like to hear it... – alephzero May 31 '17 at 1:16
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    oh man, where has my comment gone? I can't even remember what I said – Kilisi May 31 '17 at 1:45
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    @Kilisi Your comment was on the lines of "If your performance isn't up to par, fix your performance and don't blame anyone but yourself" - just paraphrasing. – user60155 May 31 '17 at 10:30
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DOCUMENT EVERY LAST THING!

I cannot stress this enough. If it isn't in writing, it didn't happen.

How to do things differently.

•When I'm working on a task and MS needs an update, he asks our manager for one instead of coming to me directly. This makes our manager feel that I'm not delivering on time or communicating well, even though we're within our agreed upon timelines

Send updates to MS, and CC your boss regularly. Do this at least once a week or whatever timeframe is appropriate

•When MS visited the US, I set aside time to meet with him and talk about our project, which was a 3-4 hour brainstorming session and went well. However, when my manager and I were discussing my performance, he emphasized that I should proactively meet with visiting team members. When I told my manager that I already did, and that we had a 3 hour meeting, his response was "Really? That's not what MS told me".

After any such meetings, send MS an email. "Thanks for meeting with me, I think we had some major breakthroughs regarding "A", "B", and "C". I can't believe we spent three hours hashing things out!" CC your boss

•I found a bug in the data that was collected by a process MS created (which my process ingests) and I emailed him (and him alone) about it. When he didn't reply after a week, I emailed him again at which point he said the problem was probably Process Blah, and that he would look into it the next day. It's worthy to note that my process cannot continue unless and until the data I get from his process is solid. A week later, he sends me an email, copies my manager and points out issues with my process being incomplete. I replied-to-all, attaching the emails I sent him, showing that I did tell him that the data he aggregated was stopping me in my tracks. In his subsequent replies, he conveniently omitted our manager in the emails.

BCC your manager in your responses next time he tries this.

•I created a test dataset with unverified data - this is what I use to run tests against - to identify which process generated the bad data and is a starting point to move the process to the next stage. When MS asked me if I had any data, I pointed him to the test dataset and explicitly told him that the data is just test data and should not be trusted till I'm done verifying it. Two days later my manager comes to me, tells me that MS told him that my process is producing bad data and asks me why I released the data before verifying it.

Again, CC your manager on EVERYTHING. You need to create a paper trail.

•I sent samples of my Matlab code to MS to see if he could help identify if anything was wrong with my code. Two days later, my manager asks me why my code is not checked in to the central repository, as MS was looking for the code and could not find it.

Send it to your manager as well.... no denying what exists elsewhere.

Is there any recourse here besides looking for new opportunities? I really like the firm and I'm learning a lot (including a lot about dirty politics).

If you start documenting everything, you may be able to pull up from this nose dive. However, I would suggest updating your resume. MS has it in for you. Get away from him if possible. and DOCUMENT EVERY LAST THING!

Learn from this and remember, keeping paper trails limits the effect of dirty pool.

If you have a in-person conversation, send an email "As per our conversation..." and CC it to anyone effected. Better to include too many people than too few.

The more people who know what is going on, the better. If five people saw your email, MS wouldn't be able to lie and say you never sent it.

Keeping everyone in the loop keeps you visible, another reason to document everything.

If there is a misunderstanding you have the documents for clarity.

If someone is playing dirty pool, you have the documents for proof.

If something is forgotten, you have the documents for archival purposes.

In short, you have everything you need to defend yourself and keep yourself covered

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    yep, might be too late now, but should have been doing this from the start – Kilisi May 30 '17 at 20:02
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    @Kilisi HA! My -1 stalker has hit me twice today! Must be doing something right ;) – Retired Codger May 30 '17 at 20:16
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I'd like to expand on Richard's answer a bit. If you just suddenly start CCing and BCCing your manager on everything without any explanation there is a good chance that your manager will be annoyed.

Explicitly state to your manager that you feel you are being misrepresented with respect to your contributions to this project. Come up with a few examples where your version of events differ from MS's. Let your manager know that you will be including them more in communications with MS so there is no room for any more miscommunication. Ask if they have a preference between being CCed and BCCed. If they do not, then BCC everything except stuff that you'd currently CC your manager on.

With respect to edit 2, the risk of looking weird by going against the grain holds lower costs than the risks associated with being repeatedly thrown under the bus. Just let your manager know that there have been instances where your version of events and the version presented by MS have been quite different. Let them know that you want to keep them in the loop to reduce the possibility for miscommunication occurring.

Minute your meetings so that there is no ambiguity about the output of those meetings. Ambiguity on responsibility is a major point being used against you. Eliminate it.

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    I would Cc instead of Bcc if they have no preference so you can forward emails where MS takes the manager off Cc to demonstrate he is actively trying to obscure his actions. Be sure to add notes in your email when you are adding someone to Cc or moving them to Bcc (it's good etiquette for people already in the thread so they know who reply-all is going to.) – 2rs2ts May 30 '17 at 22:09
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    I prefer BCC as MS is more likely to get caught in a lie when they don't know the manager is aware of the communication. Most of the instances stated come down to MS saying "This was not communicated". The manager will catch wind of being slipped off the CC list when the OP replies and adds them back with a BCC. – Myles May 30 '17 at 22:44
  • If it is Bcc then MS' reply will not come from him. It will come from OP's reply to him or a forwarded email. (No way to prove MS is actively trying to obscure his actions.) If the thread diverges OP will miss it and the manager will too. Just some things to keep in mind. Your points are valid and I think between the two of us we just value the different approaches respectively. – 2rs2ts May 30 '17 at 23:00
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    Good advice, but I do not like the BCC stuff. The idea might be to catch MS red-handed, but typically this will not help much. If there is a paper trail, any well-meaning manager will realize what MS is doing when checking that trail. And if there is some "MS is friends with the CEO" stuff going on, even catching him red-handed will not help you much, but just increase the need of management to get rid of you. – Thern May 31 '17 at 7:41

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