I've recently changed departments and I'm trying to learn new processes, as well as resolve issues in payment and coordinate on complex technical challenges.

However I find no matter what medium - email, phone, face-to-face, that my colleagues are largely non-communicative, with just me. Examples:

Relevant emails ignored

Emails requesting clarification on technical issues from colleagues will go ignored, which stalls my workflow. Re-asking simply gets no response. These are not trivial queries - usually they're request for changes only X person can do or knowledge that is internal that only X person knows.

Face-to-face played off or excused

Making queries in person gets a response akin to 'X thing is more important, I'll get back to you later on Y', with later never happening. Trying to nail down a timeframe gets vague answers. There's no verbal judo I can think of to force an action. Expressing I can't do anything whilst Y is in limbo gets no response. Arguably, I would have to cause a storm to get a different response but that sets me up for being fired (constructive dismissal?).

Politician answers

Requests from management about pay issues will, after much trying, get empty platitudes along the lines of 'yes, X will be done', which then isn't. The non-response is largely a thing in other management areas (including HR) and the only people who do respond are those without the power to affect anything.

Ignoring emails doesn't happen to others

They will respond to other people's queries (I get CC'd into group emails). If I do ever get a response, it's unhelpfully vague (sometimes only two words), and never answers the query.

In regards to payment issues, this is a thing that does, however, happen to others.

Leaving isn't really an option

Jobs market in the area is unfavourable (extremely difficult to get a decent job), I'm being paid under the table in terms of wage (factoring in travel expenses I earn below minimum wage) and I strongly suspect if my workflow 'stalls' I'd be painted as a non-worker, and if I try to force the issue I'd be seen as aggressive.

Current workaround

I'm presently trying to self-teach how the system works and still supply useful information, and have tried to raise issues of lack of knowledge transfer but my productivity is severely impeded and it's getting to a stage I can no longer progress.

For example, some major issues can't be fixed without changes to system configurations, which gets no response, meaning my systems stop working.

I'm trying to avoid fostering a hostile environment but the situation is extremely frustrating and counter-productive.


How can I effectively counter or solve this issue of non-communication/avoidance?

  • Are the travel expenses for work? – thursdaysgeek May 10 '18 at 15:25
  • Is this just about you, or is this behavior endemic across this department? – user44108 May 10 '18 at 15:25
  • @thursdaysgeek Yes. – SSight3 May 10 '18 at 15:39
  • @Snow I don't have a full picture, but it seems possibly endemic. But it also seems like the email/queries ignoring is directed at me, so maybe not. I've only been there a short time. – SSight3 May 10 '18 at 15:41
  • 2
    I'm being paid under the table in terms of wage "Under the table" in my part of the world means "There's no contract and the State and Tax people don;t know I work there or am getting paid for it" (which is illegal). Can you clarify this (and perhaps give some idea what part of the world you live in) ? – StephenG May 10 '18 at 17:16

I sympathize with your experience. This is something that can happen to lots of people especially at the beginning of one's career, or even for seasoned people in "cross-functional" roles that need to establish cooperation across organizational silos. It can also happen if you (or your job) represents a change that the people in the organization do not want to accept.

The fact that you're paid "under the table" seems like a red flag for the scenario that your job represents something the rank-and-file in the org doesn't want. If you happen to succeed at your work, it could mean that more minimum wage people people with no benefits will end up working there and eventually displace the careerists who have made a living working there. They may not want you to succeed because they feel it will undermine their positions in the org.

Whatever the case, I think the best course of action is to establish trust with the others by developing a human connection with them. This means face-to-face interaction and getting to know them as people. This might not work with everyone, but you'll at least have a level of consideration from the people you have been able to connect with.

There could be other reasons why you aren't getting cooperation. This might not apply to you specifically, but some organizations are so rigidly project managed that people simply aren't free to help out others which are not explicitly part of their project. In other words, anytime you appear with a question, it means a "time sink" for them that makes it harder to meet their "KPI's" -- every minute they spend with you represents a lost minute in reaching their goals. That's awful, but it is the way a lot of organizations are structured.

Finally, since this is a stackexchange site, consider the way that you are asking for time and help. It sounds like you are being considerate and putting in an effort before asking questions of the other workers. However, one other thing you can do is to actually schedule time with them rather than rely on ad-hoc questions and emails. This puts interactions with you in a "time-box" that can be scheduled around and planned in advance. Managers like that. Managers DON'T like unplanned work caused by others outside their team needing help. You may need assistance from management to establish scheduled meetings, but if you can get it to work, you'll have face-to-face time with people and it is much harder for them to dismiss you. It will mean that you have to prepare for these meetings by doing a lot of work in advance so you can maximize information transfer.


I was in similar situations before. Senior colleague telling me to "wait a minute, i'll be at you computer in a sec." and then a week passing.

What I did and absolutely worked is to not do anything, play on your phone and kill time until you get a response. If anyone asks you present them the emails and messages with no answer and tell them there is literally nothing for you to do until you get those replies.

You already said leaving is not an option so I wont suggest that, but I suggest putting feelers up, at least passively looking for a new job. Brush up you linkedin resume, join some facebook groups etc. best case scenario you will get a new job, worst case scenario you lose a few minutes setting all this up.

Now, back to your current job. Let's say you do as I said and basically do nothing. If anyone comes you have proof that you are ding all that you can to be productive. If it looks like they are going to sack you, like managers losing their patience with you and the such, start documenting everything, screenshots, email archives if you can, chat history etc. to prove that you DID in fact work there and if they sack you, you bring out a lawsuit because there was no contract. Thats the worst case scenario but you might want to slowly think about it, tumble it around in your head, see what details you come up regarding your situation and possible plans.

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