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I am working with a colleague who shares information with me on a delayed basis. She's worked on an area which has been assigned to me now. There's no one else whom I can ask about that area except her.

However,

  1. She responds back to me in single sentences, and,
  2. Literally every sentence is communicated with a delay of a couple of hours, sometimes even a day (we both work in the same time zone)
  3. Sometimes she doesn't answer at all. She doesn't give any replies on IM/Email and doesn't pick up my calls

This makes her help practically useless because you cannot discuss something worthwhile with just a single sentence. Moreover, when we do have discussions, she shares the minimum information.

Because of her delays I'm mostly managing without her help and figuring out things by trial and error. I'm not complaining about this. I'll keep doing it till the job is done. However, this slows down the work and there's pressure from my boss to finish up the work faster.

I've already tried speaking to my supervisor about this. He responded that she has a two year old kid and hence she's got no choice but to work for an hour and then be away for an hour or two, repeat. He wants both of us to figure out a way to communicate on our own.

How do you deal with a colleague who isn't sharing information in a timely manner?

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    How do you currently contact her? Email, IM, other tool? – DarkCygnus Jul 4 '18 at 17:56
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    How far away from you is she? Does she still work for the company? – Erik Jul 4 '18 at 18:02
  • If she's not remote, I'd walk over with a list of questions. If she's busy or remote, have you tried to setup a meeting on her calendar and then chatting with her on a Skype call? It's possible she's just busy putting out her own fires. If that doesn't work, then maybe you can push back and ask her to write up some documentation and then onboard you properly. – SomeGuyOnAComputer Jul 4 '18 at 19:44
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    Let me ask what your boss should have: what have you tried so far? Have you had (/tried to have) a frank discussion on the behaviour? – Lilienthal Jul 4 '18 at 20:01
  • @DarkCygnus I've tried Email + IM + Phone calls. Since she's always working from home, it's not possible to meet her face to face, even though we are both officially in the same office. – Mugen Jul 5 '18 at 5:11
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First you have to escalate, because that's actually what a manager's job is - to clear the issues that their reports have so the reports can get the work done.

If your manager is pushing back on you to solve the problem then they are, quite frankly, a rubbish manager.

Given you have a rubbish manager, and that's she's normally remote:

  1. setup a recurring meeting with her every day or two or week for a half hour or an hour. CC your manager on this so he knows what you're doing (optional invite). In this meeting, explicitly note this is a time for you to talk via phone to cover your questions/queries. State it will be for a half hour (or whatever) but might run shorter if there are less queries. You can even let your manager know the lengths of the meetings or imply that as transition moves forward the meetings will be less frequent - this lets him get visibility on how well the knowledge share is going, which is useful to him as a manager. Well, it might be, but he's rubbish, so who knows?

  2. IF a meeting is missed by her escalate up to the manager with a "missed meeting" so he gets visibility as to how often she's unable to help.

AND/OR

  1. There are q&a style company intranets, your company might have one. Gosh, SO sells this stuff too. Use your existing one or ask for one to be setup - then push your questions onto that, flagging her each time. This will let her plow through several questions when she has time, and will also let your manager have visibility on how many questions you have, the answers she provides and the timeliness of the responses.
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Point out to your manager that the lateness of the replies is having an impact on your own work, to the extent that you're not able to work as quickly and efficiently as you might be able to.

If your manager is ok with the time that things are taking, then just accept it. If you're left without work for periods of time because you're waiting for information, then ask for other work to do - you having more responsibility should improve your own career.

If other people are complaining about how late things are, then refer them to your manager. It sounds as though you're gradually learning the things that help you in your work, so this problem should hopefully diminish over time.

If your manager isn't ok with the work being delayed, then it's your manager's job to address the problem.

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    I like this, although the OP has edited the question and is now explicit that the shoddy manager has delegated to OP, and OP has delegated to us – bharal Jul 5 '18 at 8:46
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Schedule a handover session with her. Give her plenty of time, couple of weeks if needed, so she can arrange her schedule accordingly. If she's overworked as you say don't expect her to come prepared, but you can at least agree on a strategy in which your questions get answered with minimal friction. Make it clear if you must that the sooner this happens, the sooner you'll stop bothering her.

Notify your manager about this so that he knows about the pending knowledge transfer, so he won't expect miracles from you in the meantime.

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    Unfortunately, a single session isn't enough to cover it. She's got working knowledge about an area on which I have to work. I've already nailed the setup part. What's remaining is dealing with issues where the product doesn't work as expected. Usually the error messages are very cryptic with nothing to go on. So I have to rely on her to tell me the solutions which means that this is something that's needed on a daily basis for a couple of weeks. – Mugen Jul 5 '18 at 10:20

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