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I've worked at the same position and same company for two years. I work with two team members.

Other employees have always admired my work and gave my supervisor positive feed backs. But these two guys on my team don't buy me at all. They don't assign me any important task, which bothers me so much. I've talked to my supervisor a few times and explained, indirectly, that I stayed idle most of the time; and that led me to get some tasks from my supervisor.

But the main job that I'm supposed to do should come through these two guys. I don't know how to resolve this problem and why it's like that. I have some guesses that it may be due to two reasons; First, I'm a girl. Second I'm a foreigner and maybe disliked for my poor English.

I have thought a few times about quitting my job but there's no guarantee that the new workplace could be better. Is there anything I can do to make such bothering situation a little more tolerable?

  • If you believe sexism and racism is an issue you could speak to HR about that. – solarflare May 29 at 23:28
  • hi and welcome! your language is good, but i edited a little bit for clarity. Feel free to roll back. – Oct18 is day of silence on SE May 29 at 23:37
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    what happens when you tell your supervisor: "these two guys don't assign me tasks?" – Oct18 is day of silence on SE May 29 at 23:37
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    Why do you require your coworkers to give you tasks to complete? – Donald May 30 at 0:29
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    They don't assign me any important task, which bothers me so much - OK, so they don't assign you ANY tasks at all or they don't assign you any tasks that you deem to be important? There's an important distinction between the two. – joeqwerty May 30 at 0:45
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Two points are important.

First, be proactive and ask them for new tasks as often as you need something to do. Also, if you have dailies/ weeklies, etc. use every opportunity to say you will be happy to help when someone talks about their projects or complains about their projects. Always frame it positively, e.g.

Hi Bob, do you have anything I could help with? I find what you are working on quite interesting.

The odds are at some point they will be so bored with you asking that they will give you something just for you to shut up. And if they don't, at least nobody can complain you've been passive, hostile or lazy.

With growing work experience you often start to see potential where something could be done/ improved. That's one way to get new tasks. But I understand in your case that's not an option yet.

The second point is you should try to establish a good relationship with your coworkers. As a foreigner and a woman, it will be more difficult for you than for an average man and a native speaker. This doesn't mean it's impossible though.

What can help here:

  • self-confidence with which you should go about it
  • showing interest in your colleagues' lives (if that's a topic discussed in your company, since that's very culture-dependant) and tasks
  • having something that's attractive to them. I don't mean physical attractiveness of course. I mean e.g. access to some resources (e.g. important connections out of the team, participation in a side project everybody is interesting in), an interesting hobby, expertise in some area or similar.

Your colleagues' behavior can have a few possible causes: They don't like you, see you as a threat, don't care about you, etc. By doing the above you are addressing the most obvious causes.

  • Thanks for the answer! Right! I made them assign to me sth just to shut me up and they did; I was assigned some so-called tasks that never made any sense like throwing a toy in front of a dog to get rid of it. I like the 3 items that you mentioned, though, the self-confidence is what I've totally lost, since when I immigrated. – Ms improving May 30 at 17:40
  • @Msimproving, if someone assigned you tasks like "throwing a toy in front of a dog to get rid of it", that's definitely a reason to have a discussion with your boss. In my country, it's even illegal to assign anybody such tasks. – BigMadAndy May 30 at 18:40
  • yeah! But I don't wanna be a tell on them girl! that creates much more problems. – Ms improving May 30 at 19:13
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It is not a good place to be and I can relate to your feelings.

I don't know what kind of industry you are in, so I will try to be generic.

As @BigMadAndy said, offer help whenever possible.

One alternative option would be to ask if you could follow them when they are working, saying that you wish to learn more about what they are doing. For example, "I never really understand how to do that, could I follow you while you work on that?"

Another possibility would analyse the current work and process and try to come up with small improvements. Is there anything your colleagues complain about that you can improve of fix? that would be a good start.

In IT, for example, one could add more tests, refactor code, offer to do manual testing and self-assigning any bugs found, etc.

Just be careful to not seem like you want to change everything at once, people usually don't like major changes.

If you are not secure to propose changes, you may use your research of the current way of working to ask questions about the reasons something is done.

Of course, all of this may fail, in which case a new job probably should become an option.

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What you have been able to identify is the problem of task management. You have a team, it sounds like four people. That is one supervisor, yourself, and two team members. Before we can get to task management, there are a couple more systemic problems. I.e. Do your other three team members get the benefit of when you do work? Is it less for them to do, do they get paid more?

  • If not then they won't ever be motivated to share work. If I get paid them same and promoted equally irrelevant of whether I "give you task", why would I spend the extra time to do it. Personally this isn't how I think, but I can understand the perspective of your team members. Put yourself in their place.

  • If there are already "team goals" for the completion of these tasks, then it is a matter of task management.

In general how are tasks assigned? You need to prevent it from being something that your other team members get to decide for you. Instead your team of four, should decide how best to break up the work. For me personally we use what is called a Kanban board. That means all tasks go on the board, and when someone completes a task, they take the next one on top. The supervisor can create all the tasks, but they have to go on the board. This creates an agreement of the work which needs to be done and acknowledges that everyone can do it.

If there is no motivation for you to do the work, i.e. what happens if you come into work and do nothing, will you be fired? If the answer is no, then I suggest learning some new things yourself. Start asking other supervisors what you could be doing for them and if they need an additional person, or if you really want to be doing anything, find another job.

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