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I am the newest employee in my office. Several months before I joined, management directed all the workers to form teams to spend a "experimental day" or two per month working on whatever as long as it was related to one of our products. This is apparently a new thing, and a limited time experiment set to end this week. I heard this all from the coworker I share a cubical with.

Separately from this, management also restructured our teams for normal work. This happened a couple weeks after I started. When we scrambled teams, I and another employee ended up on a team that also happened to contain one of these "experimental day" teams. At the time, I didn't know this was the case. Management is making a big deal about these new teams for normal work, with the usual speeches about collaboration and making everyone feel comfortable to speak up.

I discovered after the fact that at some point towards the end of the window for this experiment, my team added the other employee on our team to their "experimental day" project. This means I am the only member of the team not involved. I am upset by this, but unsure how to proceed. What I want to do is bring it up calmly, professionally and ask why I wasn't told about what was going on.

At this point, I feel like I don't belong on the team. My concern is without some sort of closure, there will be some resentment towards the team as we move forward. I already feel like most of what I say during meetings isn't taken seriously and that ignoring this will just get me pushed further towards the outside. I fear I will be viewed as not a real member of the team. I don't think they intentionally left me out, merely forgot about me.

My hope is that it is workplace appropriate behavior to say "I don't feel like I belong with the team and here's why", but I am new to the office environment and fear not being taken seriously (no emotions allowed at work) or that it will backfire and paint me as "high maintenance". Should I try approaching just one member rather than everyone? Is it worth bringing up at all? Is my plan a sound one?

Asking if I could help now is a moot point, since management required these "experimental day" teams to turn in their work last week.

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    Are you sure the other new team member didn't take the initiative to ask about side projects? – Patricia Shanahan Sep 28 at 1:15
  • I have no idea how it went down, I didn't learn about any of this until after the fact. I didn't even know the rest of the team was working on this side project until today. All I know is the rest of my team is collaborating on something and I am totally out of the loop. – Son of a Sailor Sep 28 at 3:45
  • Why do you think you're entitled to be part of the group? – Gregory Currie Sep 28 at 6:50
  • Is everyone else on that team involved in that side project? What are other employees doing who are not part of a side project? (Do they work normally, or come up with a side project of their own?) – Llewellyn Sep 28 at 16:23
  • Yes, everyone else on the team is involved. Employees who are not involved do normal work. There's only a few of us not involved and we are all recent hires who joined after these groups were established. – Son of a Sailor Sep 28 at 17:20
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It's probably best to assume that you're colleagues had no bad intentions. This may or may not be the case, but it seems best to give them some credit. As Patricia Shanahan pointed out in the comments, it may well be that the other person asked them proactively.

My suggestion is not to focus on the missed project in the past, but try to become part of the next project. You could start with just talking to one of your colleagues about how cool you think these projects are.

Hey, I heard of your project about XYZ, that seems pretty cool. How exactly does the ABC part of your solution work?

This starts a conversation about the projects and they might ask you whether you want to participate next time.

If it did not suffice, you could ask:

If there is a new project I would love to participate, could you let me know if there is a project I can help with?

You should avoid sounding accusative but rather frame it positively.

  • This is sensible and if any opportunity comes up in the future this is for sure what I will do. My bigger concern is the precedent as being the odd man out. In the office there's a fair amount of talking about others in a negative light behind their back, and I fear being the odd man out will make me a target which get me pushed out opportunities. – Son of a Sailor Sep 28 at 17:59
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    @SonofaSailor Don't wait for an opportunity to come up. Have the conversation anyway, because, if kept friendly and positive, it will help your integration into the team. – Patricia Shanahan Sep 28 at 18:20
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    @SonofaSailor I can understand your worries, but also for your bigger concern staying positive will serve you best. From the information you provided it seems likely (or at least plausible) that nobody had bad intentions. I second Patricia Shanahan's suggestion to have the friendly and positive conversation anyway. – simplemind Sep 28 at 23:17
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    I'll go with staying positive. Framing it in a slightly selfish light, assume nothing malicious was meant and focus on doing my normal job so well I will be desired for extra projects in the future – Son of a Sailor Sep 29 at 3:45
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I can completely understand why you feel left out, but it would certainly be the wrong thing to do to bring this up with management, and it would certainly be inappropriate to bring it up in a team meeting.

This means the projects are rarely discussed in the office and are mostly discussed in chat rooms on weekends

This would heavily indicate to me that people would prefer to pick people they wouldn't mind talking to on the weekends, which may be a factor.

You have to understand that group doesn't owe you an explanation on why you were not invited. And if the group is forced to include you because you complain to management (though management should be advised to not get involved), you are just ostracizing yourself further.

If you do feel like increasing your chances of being involved in the future, you could mention that you would like to be involved in the future, when you're discussing things on friendly terms, in a friendly setting, with your teammates. Do not complain that you are feeling left out. Be positive and forward looking.

  • +1, and if management knew about the expected weekend work time for being a part of this, that could well have been a positive reason why the OP wasn't included (i.e. "If you guys work weekends then that's on you, but don't make sailor feel he has to too.") – berry120 Sep 28 at 18:20

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