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So the structure in our team is that several managers work under a senior manager, and each manager is in charge of one or two analysts. I am an analyst under Manager A, but sometimes Manager B comes to borrow me to dump some of her jobs to me, and my manager agrees because he can't generate enough work for me. She also lets the senior manager know so she really isn't going to take my credit for this (she did on some side jobs she asked me to help, but that's another matter).

The problem is that, for some reason, she is not willing to give me any meaningful training on the jobs she hands over to me. Our team is quite technical (within a bank) and many business logics are not well documented. Training by seniors is almost the only way to learn. The only form of training she gives me is allowing me to attend some meetings on which some aspects of this job are discussed. For example, members from her team brief on the findings, or discussion on some technical nuances.

Never did she give me proper individual training on the backgrounds and how to actually do the job. When I ask her questions, she would give cursory answers and ask me join one of those meetings.

Despite all this, she would brag to the senior manager how she spent time training on me. And this makes the senior manager think I already have a good command of the job but actually I do not. (So far I don't really need to do the job because it's done by her analyst. I'm only trained as sort of a backup.)

What complicates things more is that I have jobs from my own manager to focus on. So I can't spend too much time trying to figure out the job myself. I can't ask the analysts working for her either, because it seems that she already told them to direct all questions to her.

What can I do about this? I want clear instructions and guidance on where to start; what I need to know.

  • What you should do depends upon what you want. In an ideal world, what does your perfect resolution to this issue look like? – BSMP Jan 23 at 4:15
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    @BSMP In an ideal world, if people give me jobs, I expect clear instructions and guidance on where to start, what I need to know. – Catiger3331 Jan 23 at 4:57
  • This question is a big wall of text. Please break it down into small paragraphs and shorten it if you can. Thank you. – Stephan Branczyk Jan 23 at 7:46
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You need to take care of your side - because sooner or later, this is going to be backfiring on you as you cannot perform the assigned duties.

The facts that:

  • Both Manager A (your direct manager) and Manager B are in the same reporting hierarchy
  • Your manager not having enough work assignments for you
  • Manager B is not trying to outright steal credits for your work

makes the work assignment from manager B as formal.

Now, as you mentioned:

"So far I don't really need to do the job because it's done by her analyst. I'm only trained as sort of a backup."

you're working as a backup, so maybe the work item expected of you is not crucial and there are no important works which are depending on your output / result - so they may be thinking that by "involving" you into these additional activities they are training you to be aware and competent about the other jobs assigned to you. However, that's not the reality as you also mentioned, you are not gaining much insight by attending the meetings.

Also, it might not be long before you are assigned with actual work from manager B and at that time if you're unable to produce results, it could potentially look bad on your part, as it'll appear that after spending much time on training and on-boarding you, you're unable to deliver. So, you need to sort out these confusions sooner than later.

You need to bring this up to manager B first, and if it does not work, to your own manager. This might be a lack of proper focus on getting your trained properly (because you're being considered as a standby till time), or maybe misunderstanding, maybe incompetence - maybe all of them or none. Irrespective of that, you need to make it very clear that attending the meetings are not helping you to gain the required knowledge you'd need to get the job done properly.

Next time, manager B assigns you a job, you ask the help / reference to get started, and when they direct you to a meeting:

  1. Attend the meeting and make notes.
  2. Prepare a list of items that are still unclear after the meeting
  3. Send a follow up to manager B (with your manager in CC) with your notes and the outstanding questions and make it very clear that until your doubts are clarified and you have the required information, you cannot get started on the requested activity.

Remember: Constant communication and regular updates are the key factors here. You need to ensure that you are making everyone aware that you need help and whatever help you got is not sufficient.

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Discuss this with your manager. Just ask your manager to help out on the training matter. Make it clear that you can perform the additional tasks, but not without training. It is your manager's job to manage your time and help look out for your career.

Proceed cautiously and try to stay calm about it.

Why is Manager A doing that? Hard to know for sure, but keep speculations to yourself and don't raise the question – even with your manager. It does sound like there could be some territorial behavior regarding the job, and the fact is some people do that.

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  • Thanks for the suggestion. Very helpful. – Catiger3331 Jan 23 at 4:58
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    To this excellent answer I would add: when you do tasks for which you need training, consider the training part of your task. Ask your manager, Manager B, and your co-workers for the names of people who know something about your task, ask questions, and train yourself. – O. Jones Jan 23 at 11:56
  • Solid answer I reckon – Kilisi Jan 23 at 12:39
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In general, when management expects you to do something but don't provide you with resources, information, or support, it's because they're expecting YOU to "self-start", figure out what you need and get it done.

I agree it's an uncomfortable situation, it feels like you're left in limbo and there are no guard-rails to keep you on track. It may help to consider the point of view of management here. They might not understand the work you do, your skills, your background, or what information you need. They might not even have knowledge of what your coworkers in the other team are capable of. All they know is what they need done. Especially in a bean-counter/banking context, managers aren't going to lose face by admitting they're ignorant of the work their reports do.

The plus side, however, is that you have a great deal of latitude to just do what you feel is necessary to get the job done. If you need some training, find out what's available, and get it. Need someone to talk to, get their input directly, don't even bother to have their manager or your manager orchestrate it for you. Some things will require approval, but I suspect you'll find it easy to get that as long as the manager doesn't have to do mental labor beyond "yes or no".

This is what job descriptions mean when they say they want "self-starters" or "self-directed" people. It means working without clear directions.

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