I work in a team of several people. Officially we are responsible for different parts of a process. Which means that we sometimes need information from one another.

One of my colleagues doesn't give me information. His normal answer when I ask him for something is "I don"t know" (although it's a question that pertains to his part of process) or "ask X, I would too" (although the colleague and not X is responsible for that) or "it's not the technology I'm a specialist in" (he's responsible for all technologies related to his part of the process) or simply ignoring me. These are questions I need to clarify as they have strong consequences for my work. I avoid asking the colleague for help but there are things I simply need to ask him.

Also, sometimes it's simply difficult to catch him as we both have plenty of calls every day and the problems I deal with are normally urgent - I can't wait till the next weekly...

That's why I started to ask these questions in writing, giving our team lead in cc. This shouldn't be shocking also because the team lead tends to control very strongly what this colleague is doing, giving him advice, prioritising his tasks, etc. There have also been plenty of cases that the team lead actually overruled the colleague's decision.

Also, I want to have certain things in writing. For example that I requested some information - because without having it I'm stuck, I can't move forward with my project.

Our team lead now told me I am being aggressive and uncooperative. And that he expects me to talk to the colleague and not write emails which sound like escalations.

I'm at my wits' end.

What strategy could I use to ensure this colleague provides more useful assistance?

[EDIT] Of course I explained my motives and asked my team lead what I should do in this situation! He just repeats like a mantra that I should talk to the colleague.

  • 1
    Asking "what can I do?" or "How do I deal with this" are not really questions we can answer here. I'd suggest you re-formulate your question with a specific goal in mind e.g. "What strategy could I use to ensure this colleague provides more useful assistance?"
    – TrueDub
    May 3, 2018 at 16:18
  • 2
    Have you ever asked the colleague why he isn't the person to ask these questions? Have you asked your boss what you're suppose to do if you ask and he refuses to answer? It just seems like you're reluctant to get any clarification. It's difficult to answer your question without knowing this and if you new this, you'd have your solution.
    – user8365
    May 3, 2018 at 16:27
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    The way I read this is that your emails to the team lead are escalations, because this other colleague is not co-operating. It seems to me that your team lead is not fully aware of the problems you're having - and perhaps that lack of awareness is what you need to address first...?
    – brhans
    May 3, 2018 at 17:00
  • 1
    If he doesn't know, he doesn't know. You can't expect to get blood from a stone. He's clearly able to do his job well enough to not get fired so maybe his purview isn't exactly what you think it is. May 3, 2018 at 19:46
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    I'd definitely advise clarifying exactly what this colleague's responsibilities are. I've personally been on the other side where people would come to me with something expecting it to be my responsibility when it really wasn't. My redirecting them to the people with the right knowledge was actually being helpful, not dodging work. People on all sides were unhappy about it until we all got into a room and clearly defined what everyone's roles and responsibilities were.
    – Cronax
    May 9, 2018 at 11:22

1 Answer 1


What strategy could I use to ensure this colleague provides more useful assistance?

I think you have to put your Lead up to date on this situation more clearly.

You have been cc'ing the questions you ask to him, and that is great because it helps you have something to back you up as evidence of your cooperation.

However, I would suggest you explain to your Lead the behavior of your colleague when dealing in person, just like you did to us here, rather than showing him the effects of the root problem.

Try talking to your lead on a one-on-one meeting, where you can expose what you have done and tried when interacting with this colleague. You can also ask for your Leads counsel after you explain the situation, so he can perceive a more constructive approach from your part and not take your words like "I tried all, it's his fault" (increasing the chances to find a solution to this).

This way your Lead will truly know what is going on and be able to act accordingly.

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