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.