I was, a year back, reassigned from one job role where I had a manager who was assigning me plenty of work, to a new project role with a different manager, who generally isn't assigning me any work. This is in a project where there is a lot of work and system improvements that can be done.

What I've tried


I've attempted to discuss the matter with the manager on numerous occasions, both via email and in personal. Emails are ignored, and they will actively make themselves busy talking to other people to block any attempts at face to face engagements.

When I do finally get a face to face engagement, I get what can only be described as vague excuses (such as 'there's no work appropriate for you!' - this is despite having an equal competency to other team members who will consult me for advice).

Self-assigning tasks

Normally, if a manager can't find work for me, I will do my best to engage in other work or tasks.


I can't generally do documentation as I'm largely kept out of other processes, and thus don't understand them. What I can document, I've already documented.

System improvements

Anything I build to streamline or improve the system requires approval from the manager, which he never gives. Any suggestions or proposals for improvement I make typically get assigned to someone else to perform.

Assisting other team members

If I ask other team members if they have sub-tasks for me, they will happily give any they have to hand, which is usually not that many, but often I complete these in quick order and they're quite minor. In reality, I shouldn't have to fish for work from other team members, I should be assigned those from my manager.

Assisting other departments

If I try to pull non-priority tasks from other departments (who are happy for me to stop working on them at any time), the manager explicitly forbids me from working on tasks from other departments.

In review

I can't work on any of the project, I can't document, I can't assist other departments, and I can only help team members - who are arguably equals - in small ways, I can't convince the manager to assign work. It almost reeks of constructive dismissal to me (or at least an attempt to drive my presence away from the team in the hopes I get reassigned back). There have been no complaints about my prior work and no specific issues raised.

Bearing in mind the manager has avoided as much paper trail as possible (by ignoring emails and basically forcing in-person discussions), how should I go about tackling this situation?

(I'd prefer not to quit as I liked the previous manager and I don't really want to let this manager 'win'.)

  • What is your job? It could be that you fail in self-assigning by not being active enough with the stakeholders and your manager does not understand that. Is it possible that there is not much to do? Where do your team-mates get their work from? Commented Mar 16, 2019 at 19:47
  • How long has this been going on? Commented Mar 17, 2019 at 14:23
  • About 8 years ago I put a nasty bug in the backend I was working on. Think "people can use other people's credit to make phone calls" kind of bug. The CEO was understanding, the CTO was not. I basically stopped getting work to be done until I quit. TL;DR he probably wants you to quit, in the end you probably will.
    – ChatterOne
    Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 11:16

1 Answer 1


You wouldn't have asked this question if you decided just to waste time and take your pay for nothing. So I guess you want to do productive work for this company.

This is a situation where "why?" is the question. The way your present manager behaves, they have a strong reason for not giving you work, and they are afraid to tell you that reason. So they avoid you. They deflect your requests for more work with vague answers.

Your post doesn't address the why? question.

Until you know why this is happening, you can't do much to get better assignments.

How will you learn "why?" Who can you ask? (Remember, HR is not your friend.) Do you have a co-worker you trust? Can you ask your old manager, or even your old manager's boss? Remember, you want information. Say something like "I wonder why my new manager doesn't assign work to me? Do you know what's up?" Avoid the temptation to accuse your new manager of anything when you ask questions.

Once you know "why" you can take corrective action. You may have to find a new job, or get your old manager to take you back. Or, you may be able to address the issue directly with your new manager and sort it out.

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