I joined in an organisation before 6 months as Ruby on Rails (ROR) Developer. I have complete experience as ROR Developer and with mid level front end skills. This organisation is wholly a JAVA based organisation where they have a small part build in ROR. That ROR part does not have much work for me to do hence I am being put in the JAVA projects so that I don't sit idle in office.

Also the people here have very good fluency in English and they are here for 5 - 10 years. My previous organisations are where your work speak for you. Here you have to speak for you. As I look very soft and struggle to speak good English they have decided that I am an under performer and treat me that way.

They behave like that I don't even exist in the team. If I ask, then they will assign tasks. Otherwise they won't. During Planning meetings, They don't even plan tasks for me or try to keep me occupied with work.

I would like to inform that though I am not a native English speaker I have a decent spoken English. I can adopt to any programming language easily. The problem here is it is more customised that one cannot google and figure out if something went wrong.

How to handle such situations?

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    Which part exactly is 'disrespectful'? How do you know that they "decided" you are under performer? Did it come into your performance review? All you have mentioned is they do not plan task or assign task to you without approaching them. This may be due to their own inefficiency but not sure if you can call it disrespectful – PagMax Dec 13 '18 at 10:41
  • They planned task for everyone in the team except me. I was not present on the meeting day. So nobody even asked what is the plan for me for the next sprint. My manager or the lead or the colleagues no one. – Suganya Selvarajan Dec 13 '18 at 10:49
  • Apart from trying to get specific assignments, try tackling challenging bugs that require clever thinking more than specific familiarity with a (computer or human) language. Build a reputation as someone who gets important problems solved. – Chris Stratton Dec 13 '18 at 19:20
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    @Suganya why weren't you at the meeting? Do you think maybe that's why you weren't assigned anything? – Kat Dec 13 '18 at 21:28
  • @Kat I wasn on sick leave that day and I did let them know about them through an email. If people were not present also, I have seen them planning tasks for them. – Suganya Selvarajan Dec 17 '18 at 6:50

You cannot easily communicate and you're a junior in the technology they use. That makes it very easy for you to get sidelined, as you are. The first thing to do is fix the communication barrier; if you can't afford to get English lessons, you have to study on your own.

Then you need to become more proficient in Java so they start thinking of you more as a peer, rather than someone they have to make work for. Again, you have to study on your own here if they use a framework or technology you're not very good at.

But the point is, even if you become best Java developer in the team, it will still be hard for you if you can't communicate.

Finally, tell your boss / manager / team lead that you want to start contributing more. Tell them you're taking English lessons (if you are) and ask them for their help in getting up to speed. This means asking them what areas you can improve in, other than language and technology, and also to work with you in giving you tasks that help you prove yourself in the eyes of the team. And then do the same thing every 3 months or so to see how you're improving.

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    I was going to answer, but this is perfect +1 because communication is vital. If you don't have mastery over the language being spoken, you will be perceived as less intelligent. My family went through this, and everyone learned to become fluent. – Richard Says Reinstate Monica Dec 13 '18 at 13:52
  • @RichardU To be fair, there is a difference between 'intelligent' and 'intelligible', I think most people know the difference, but it's hard for the person in question to tell because both involve dumbing down speech to be understood. – Douwe Dec 13 '18 at 17:46
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    @Douwe both with my own hearing, and my family's learning English, yes, they think you are less intelligent. I've had to deal with the whole "Deaf and dumb" thing my whole life. – Richard Says Reinstate Monica Dec 13 '18 at 17:59
  • @Douwe Most people, when asked, would know the difference. In practice, people don't naturally treat non-native speakers as unintelligible intelligent people. This is clearly evident when compared to interactions involving translators. – David S Dec 13 '18 at 21:36
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    It's not even a matter of thinking them less intelligent, for me it's about being unable to understand them. I'm not a fool, I know there's intelligence in there. But intelligence is all about complex thoughts and if you can't get them across effectively, you can't have a meeting of the minds. You certainly know what it's like to have deep, iterative subject-diving with another sharp mind, now imagine not that. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Dec 13 '18 at 22:22

6 months isn't very long to break into a team if you're an outsider of some sort. Just work as professionally as you can, be friendly and helpful, don't get frustrated and you'll prove your worth eventually.

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    6 months is long enough. I usually see a new dev with 1-2 years experience taking about three months to turn productivity positive. By six months, if they're not starting to run it's usually a bad sign. And this is in a highly niche, sci/tech crossover field with a steep learning curve. With that said, you can't expect performance like that by stuffing the new guy in the closet for six months with no work to do. Those first months need to be a boot camp. – J... Dec 13 '18 at 14:30
  • @J... - the answer is not talking about productivity. It clearly says "to break into a team". – Davor Dec 13 '18 at 16:15
  • @Davor I think those things are quite intimately related. – J... Dec 13 '18 at 16:21
  • @J... - well, as opinions go, I literally can't see any connection between concepts like productivity and social bonding. – Davor Dec 13 '18 at 16:22
  • @Davor Social bonding is only a minor aspect of "breaking into a team". It seems like OP is simply not being given anything to do. The point is that six months is plenty of time to break in. If it's not happening by then, it probably never will, and the warning signs should have been visible for a long time before that. – J... Dec 13 '18 at 16:28

You mistake is to assume that a evaluation as an underperformer is a sign of disrespect, and relate it directly to specific weaknesses. An underperformer is defined by his output in a specific field, and to be an underperformer in one field is not the end of the world, and being categorized as such is not disrespectful, but can be a rational decision of a project.

As I look very soft and struggle to speak good English they have decided that I am an under performer and treat me that way.

That sounds like you believe that they judge you by personality traits and language skills alone, and not based on your output. I found nothing in your text which otherwise suggests this. Interpret it from their viewpoint:

Imaging you have a task, where you know that a Java novice could do it in 2h, including requiring help, and due to the language barrier potentially with a misunderstanding causing delay/bugs/errors. Imagine now that you could do the task in 0.5h-1h because you are experienced. What would you do if your task is to execute the project and not to train the colleagues. Would you, even if you get pressure from your boss.

During Planning meetings, They don't even plan tasks for me or try to keep me occupied with work.

It is not the task of the project to "keep you occupied". It is your task to become valuable enough for the project to assign tasks to you. Plan your language training, Java training, and be willing to sacrifice an considerable amount of personal time for it, and talk to you boss.


A thing to be careful with is that while it doesn't hurt to ask for help, you shouldn't expect them to do it. Afterall, they have other team members they can easily communicate with and get work done but they have to put extra work in to communicate with you. In my personal experience, people will not put the extra work in for you. If anything, expect remedial work in such a situation as you currently are.

However, did you write this question yourself? If so it appears you have good command in writing english and perhaps good understanding. Can you ask your boss or manager if it is possible to communicate work to you in email or ticketing systems? Perhaps write your boss an email explaining you have trouble with understanding spoken english but you can understand written english much better.

  • "If so it appears you have good command in writing english" - really? Mixing up "is" and "are" is at best high school level English. I would not consider it good enough to write professional emails. – Davor Dec 13 '18 at 16:19
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    I have to disagree. Present/future tense mixups are fairly common. Heck, the amount of people I deal with in the workplace with college degrees and being born in the USA can't tell the difference between "your" and "you're." – Dan Dec 13 '18 at 17:30
  • @Dan It's not just about the number of mistakes, but also how someone structures their sentences and uses certain language constructs. Things like "My previous organisations are where your work speak for you" simply sound foreign to a native speaker. This is admittedly the hardest part to get right when learning a language - anybody with some experience could almost certainly figure out that my native tongue is German even though I've studied and lived in the US for a while and have C2 proficiency officially :-) – Voo Dec 13 '18 at 21:05
  • @Davor If op is in the states it's fine. Email is about creating a log of communication. That's it. – user53651 Dec 13 '18 at 21:16
  • @Voo That phrasing is Southern. All it's missing is "iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice". – user53651 Dec 13 '18 at 21:17

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