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My coworker told me that a bi-annual event this year would be "my baby" - her words. She specifically said that nothing would need to be done until now (November), and would help me through the process.

I've asked her for information about past events, about what is expected for this year, etc, and got some information, but when I ask for more, like actual spreadsheets and budgets and receipts from the past, I get told that I don't need it yet. When I bring up the menu or float an idea, I get shut down. I just heard her speaking to our boss about the project and he's asking her how it's going, etc, and she said nothing about it being handed over to me. She has a folder on her desk for the project but "there's nothing" to give to me.

I want to start making plans, but I don't have anything I need to do it and my coworker seems reluctant to hand it over.

This is something I was really excited about when she told me it was my responsibility, but now she's not letting me do anything, and it's really frustrating, because I'd like to budget my time for this but if I don't need to, there's a bunch of other things I can take care of. I really want to do this, but I don't want to waste my time.

How do I politely say that if she wants to do it, go for it, but if not, back off and let me do it?

Edit: To clarify, I was hired to take over her position over a year ago. This is the first time the event has happened since I was hired, and she has delegated her past responsibilities to me as they've come up, along with instructions, etc. She's the one I'll have to resolve this with.

  • Stop being so timid. Just ask. – Simon B Nov 28 '18 at 0:27
  • Prediction: she will get any credit for things that go well, having done them to help the newbie even though it's not her job. As for the things that don't go well ... – Mawg says reinstate Monica Nov 28 '18 at 12:51
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How do I politely say that if she wants to do it, go for it, but if not, back off and let me do it?

It doesn't sound like this is your project if she's updating your boss without you.

It isn't clear to me why a co-worker would be able to assign work to you when you mention having a boss; maybe I'm missing something.

Mention what happened to your boss from "it is your baby" to whatever else. It would be good if there was an email you could show as a record.

Hopefully your boss will not be surprised that you think it is your project, and you can iron out the details with him/her instead of your co-worker.


Updating with this new information:

Unfortunately, going to him isn't really an option. He... doesn't really care how it gets done. If I speak with him about it I'll likely get told to speak to my coworker about it. I really need a way to address her directly and politely.

If you haven't started emailing, it would be a good time. Email is self documenting.

Maybe something like:

"Hi [her name],

We have talked on an off about project X and originally you told me that I didn't need to worry about it until November. Since it will be December next week I would like to get something on your calendar.

I do remember you saying that it isn't a big deal, but I know you have done it a few times and I'm concerned that it may be a bigger deal for me on my first time than it is for you.

I'd like to go over timelines and [whatever else]. I'll send you a calendar invite for next Tuesday 2-3 PM to get started."

If she declines the invite, ask her for two times next week that work for her.

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    To clarify, I was hired to take over her position over a year ago. This is the first time the event has happened since I was hired, and she has delegated her past responsibilities to me as they've come up, along with instructions, etc. She's the one I'll have to resolve this with. – lovecraft Nov 27 '18 at 19:46
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    @lovecraft Oh, good. You seem to be in a much better position than I imaginged. I suspect it would still be good to discuss this with your boss. – J. Chris Compton Nov 27 '18 at 19:53
  • @lovecraft because it may take you a lot longer to do (it is your first time doing it) – J. Chris Compton Nov 27 '18 at 19:55
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    Unfortunately, going to him isn't really an option. He oversees things like this event because he has an interest in them going well, but he doesn't really care how it gets done. If I speak with him about it I'll likely get told to speak to my coworker about it. I really need a way to address her directly and politely. – lovecraft Nov 27 '18 at 20:13
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If you were hired to take over this task, I think it is valid to go to her and ask again for the information. It is nearly the end of November, and since it will be your first time doing it, you should expect to take a bit longer, rather than shorter. Here is some wording you might use:

Hi Jane, you said I would need to start working on this in November, and I expect I might need extra time and help, since this will be my first time working on this. I would like to set up a time to work with you, so you can explain and handover the spreadsheets and other materials needed.

At the same time, could we go over the timeline, not just what I need to do now, but when is a good time to start on other tasks in this project? I'd like to have a good idea of the overall process, so I can not bother you all the time about this.

You were hired for the task, she's said that you were going to do the task, so of course you need to work on it. Just be matter of fact about it. If she pushes back, then it might be worth going to your boss and asking for clarification.

Right now, since it is November, you have an easy reason to ask for it - she essentially told you to!

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