Fill in the blanks communication and politics

I am in India I work on a project that involves getting work specs from the US.

I have been working with this person Dmitry. He is a Russian. Somehow i have had bad experiances working with Russians. I have already worked with 3 till now. I found them to be mean and always finding faults and raising hue and cry about petty matters.

Background:
Our company's India Office has just opened about a year ago. Our manager came from the US to India office and promised us quality work. So he asks Dmitry to give the work he was working on to me. To which many people in the US have become insecure might be even Dmitry. The project Dmitry was working on was shelved and all his team members were let off except him. He was put in this project. This is the project:

Our project accepts delimited text files from an external vendor, inserts the data into a staging table to clean duplicates
from them through Oracle Sql Loader, and finally stores the data into the final table.

As the vendor has introduced new fields and removed other fields  in the delimited file, columns needed to be added and removed in the staging table and the final table.

Dmitry assigned me work regarding this. So he wrote me a mail which tried to describe about the following.

Object1: data file containing delimited text to be loaded into staging table.
Object2: Staging Table that will load all data from delimited file into the staging table, and clean the data of duplicates.
Object3: The table itself. The table will eventually store all the data from the staging table.


In his email that was supposed to give work to me he mentioned about the Data file and the Staging table, but no mention
about the table itself (object3)- No mention about which columns in this table is going to be retained and which removed.

He mentioned about Object1: The file containing delimited text, but didn't mention where this file is located. He did tell
me the location a few days back, but I didn't know if that location contains the new file that contains recent changes made by the vendor.

Also, the delimited text file contains a reference of all the columns the data contains, so i could have checked for myself if this is the delimited text file with the recent changes or not, but my thoughts never wondered there.

When I asked about the location of the delimited file, Demitry said "Gram, I am surprised that you do not know about the
location of the file, I have already told you the location, you could have opened the file checked it's fields and come
to a conclusion if this is the new file with recent changes or not. You need to be more proactive and aggressive.

Till now I have been hearing such things with patience, but my experiance is that such things exaggerate with time from
being a little devil which you ignored to being a monster.

I fear that on seeing that I did not react to his statement, he might go to my manager and complain about me to him: "Gram
needs to be more proactive and more aggressive, and i told Gram that" such small complaints all bundle up to become huge accusitions.

I wanted to nip the evil in the bud, my fear is that if I confront him and he just says "Ok Gram, I will do this project on
my own" this will harm me. This might be exactly what he wants.. To take more projects under his wings and if i don't
confront him he might mistake me to be a harmless teddy bear who can listen to whatever rot he has to say, and eventually he might escalate all this to our manager.

What should I do: Should i take him head on and tell him that he has a communication problem and needs a more water tight communication which is not water tight and risk making an enemy, or should i just keep patiently listening to his mud
slinging on petty matters?


I have noticed that people who want to complain about you first speak the complaint in front of you to notice your reaction.If you do not react then the escalate the matter. If you have good Oratory skills they do not touch you.

A little bit of history:
In my last project, we had a lot of invalid objects in our schema. There was a call one evening and the issue was
raised. One person Igor told me: Gram as you were working on India time during which these invalidations have appeared did you check how many invalid objects were there and compliled all of them to become valid. I said no, I do not keep checking objects for invalidation all the time. I just did my work and Bingo. Igor replied back saying "In all projects people keep checking invalid objects all the time that is a common practice, why didn't Gram do it?" and i didn't reply to it.

Also in my last project the US manager escalated  things behind my back and i didn't know about them. Neither my manager nor the onsite US manager or his team or my team every uttered a word about it. I got to know about it much later when i left the project in an year. So i never got a chance to justify myself.
gram77Asked:
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Enabbar OcapCommented:
> "I am surprised that you do not know about the
location of the file, I have already told you the location"
I consider communications like this to be a waste of several peoples time. You asked a question and whether or not you had been told previously is irrelevant (Unless you ask the same question several times and it is answered each time).
What you needed was to be told the location of the file, he didn't tell you and didn't even include a reference where he had told you previously. Now you have a situation where you need a file, he knows where it is (or he doesn't and is trying to hide the fact). He has spent time reading your question and replied without giving the information you need so you still need the file. He is now spending time talking to other people about your question so their time is being takien up as well. Meanwhile the job that you need the file for is sitting waiting and the customer is being kept waiting as well. All because he thought it would be easier to let you know what he thought of you than to answer what looked like a simple question.
If he wanted to complain to you he should have said 'I already told you where the file is <<email embedded showing the date when he tld you and the information you want>>' Then he can continue if he likes with his complaint to you, but to complain and not give the information is timewasting and ultimately costs the customer money.
 
 

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SuperdaveCommented:
It sounds to me like Dmitri forgot to tell you where he put the file but he doesn't want to admit he was wrong.  In that case I wouldn't expect him to complain about you to anyone else.  Guessing which version of a file is current based on what looks right is not a good idea because eventually you might guess wrong and that could have big consequences, so you are right to want to be told what the current file is.  Besides, if it turned out to be the old file you would have wasted your time checking.  I would ignore it but remind him in future communications to tell you where he put the file because you can't be responsible for guessing.  It sounds like you had a bad experience in the past with somebody talking bad about you to the management, but I don't think that will be as much of a problem as your experience has led you to believe.  In other words, this guy has a bad attitude but don't worry too much about it.
BigRatCommented:
Several points :

1) Write every action which you do down, ie: keep a diary of what you have done.
2) If you agree with somebody to do this or to do that, write it down and send him/her a copy. Then things are clear.
3) If the company you work for doesn't appreciate you - particularly if you have written things down - leave and find a company which does. Companies are like wine - some are good, some are bad and some are bloddy awful.

I can't count the number of talented people I have met in my life who have wasted their lives working for bozos.
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behendersonCommented:
It sounds like you are allowing informal communications paths to dictate business requirements.  You should take the approach that you always need sign off on Business requirements so when you get informal communications summarize them, emphasizing information that is not yet defined, and ask for confirmation back that everyone is in agreement as to what the requirements are.

If you get push back when you attempt to institute formalized business requirements with sign off you can simply state that requirements that are not clearly spelled out and agreed upon to the smallest detail are of no use whatever.    So do not complain, but write everything back and ask for confirmation that you have the requirements down correctly.  If he criticizes you for this then you can escalate it and urge higher ups that you have a more formalized approach to business requirements gathering and sign off.  No higher up worth their salt would fail to support that.

Don't make complaints about people, make them about processes.  

Once you complete a project ask how many hours they need you to dedicate to ongoing data verification and process monitoring.  They won't want to have to pay for the hours so they will usually want you to dedicate little or none.. but then if there is an issue they own the choice they made and the consequences of that choice.   You need to make them commit to either paying you for hours for ongoing support or owning the consequences of having declined it.
leonstrykerCommented:
Long distance relationships, and this is a relationship, have a hard time unless total agreement is reached. What you need to do is state the requirements as you perceive them and have you counterparty sign off on this. That would avoid any and all issues.
gram77Author Commented:
behenderson:
It sounds like you are allowing informal communications paths to dictate business requirements

leonstryker:
What you need to do is state the requirements as you perceive them and have you counterparty sign off on this


1. Since Dmitry is stuck with his work, he came up to me for my help. and he wants the requirements to be written by me (not him)
All communications in written especially by mail, ends up taking a lot of time.
Since we work on Inida-US timezone, once i raise an issue i will see the reply by next day only..(If my mail is replied to immediately)
I did so it took 2 weeks to settle requirements, and then he complained that "I need to be more productive"

2. Also, Dmitry also mentioned that all the "requirement gathering should be done in India". Dmitry says: If i can give answers to your questions
you can as well get answers to your questions yourself. So we have decided to do all the homework here in India and if we have questions mail those to
everyone in the team. Basically refrain from putting spotlight to Dmitry.

This way i do not waste time as i discuss my questions with my manager who is available to me anytime, and if he cannot answer escalate those questions.

Let me see how this works. any suggestions!

Is Dmitry right?

behendersonCommented:
You should never just sit and do nothing but you may end up with some work completed that is 'throw away' work, meaning that it will be work done that does not fulfill the business needs.
You can do work based on "best guess" or assumptions in the absence of fast turnaround on business feedback but whenever you do this send an email stating that there were not specific directions so you made the following assumptions.. (list them out) then ask them to provide a response to the email to provide confirmation that you have made the correct assumptions.
All of these emails together will show how often direction is not clear.. If in almost all cases you make correct assumptions then stop worrying you are getting enough information to do your job, if in many cases you are making the wrong assumptions you can worry less because you have clear documentation showing that there is a problem getting clear direction on what you should be doing.  Once you have enough email where there is not clear direction given you can escalate this problem to your manager and allow them to decide what they want to do about it if anything.
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