I am a software engineer with around 5 years' development experience currently working remotely and my manager has assigned me some work that involves working with a client based outside my country.

The project I am assigned to is still outside my expertise and involves something I have never done. The team was setup 3 months ago and most of the things have been already covered or are partially done. This team is setup as a performance optimization team and has less priority.

Whenever I join the meetings I am asked to pick up a task but I am hesitant as I am afraid to deliver it and recently I have become so bored that I don't join the meetings as I have lost interest in any of those tasks.

I am slacking off due to this and this unprofessionalism is causing me to feel guilty. my client doesn't say much to me and is probably not interested to know what I am doing as other colleagues are proactively picking up the work as they were part of the team when it started. I was abruptly asked to join the team and asked to learn and start working.

The question I have is: I am honestly not sure what role I am supposed to have currently, my manager and scrum master sometimes asks me to do some work from the task board and other times asks me to only understand the process of optimization and explain to other colleagues.

  • 1
    Why are you asking us, and not your manager?
    – Mawg
    May 13, 2020 at 8:08

2 Answers 2


This is a conversation you need to have with your manager very explicitly. You need to ask the following questions and make it clear you're prepared to do the work necessary to meet the role. If you aren't, you need to ask how you can adjust the role or switch to a more appropriate role (you must have data to support your request).

What is my role with the team? What are your expectations of me? How will I be measured against those expectations? I'd like to improve, where can I be better?

In addition to these questions, the best way to tackle this moving forward is to (pardon the parlance) get off your butt and get active about participating. You need to put the fear aside and attack your objectives in a professional manner. If you don't have any tasks, reach out to your teammates and your scrum master. Ask what you can do to make their work lighter. Ask what training you can engage in to help you support the team better.

Proactivity here is your friend. If you look for this information without being prompted by your manager (and do it regularly when you have these questions), their respective perceptions of you will only improve.

Make it clear with your manager that a defined purpose will help your engagement.

  • thanks for the answer. As soon as I joined the team I setup a meeting with the scrum master and he told me that about the objective and how he might need some inputs from me. But I don't see him asking for any inputs from me anytime. In fact the problem is I am late to the project, I had to learn what was done and I don't know why am I required for any inputs in the project. I am not sure if I can be of any help.
    – cixerit231
    May 11, 2020 at 15:16
  • You need to change that specific narrative in your own head. You need to believe you can help the team, and you need to go find ways to provide that help. If the scrum master didn't ask for inputs, ask for his inputs. Keep asking until you get the answers. Don't get frustrated with it, just keep at it. Belief, action, persistence. May 11, 2020 at 15:22
  • A downvote for both answers that recommend talking immediately to your leader? I'd love to hear a comment defining the reasoning on that one. May 11, 2020 at 15:37
  • thanks for giving me a better direction. I think it's the false narrative in my head that's not helping me. I will probably talk to the scrum master regarding this and take up something.
    – cixerit231
    May 11, 2020 at 16:29
  • Great answer. Clear advice to @cixerit231 is that you need to do two things simultanteously: "getting off your butt" while also addressing the broader problem directly with your manager.
    – Lilienthal
    May 12, 2020 at 7:20

I am honestly not sure what role I am supposed to have

Whenever you don't understand your role, you need to have a conversation with your boss immediately.

Find a time to meet. Explain how you are feeling, and ask for clarification of your role.

What you are doing now (slacking off, avoiding meetings, etc) will almost certainly lead to your dismissal if continued.

  • I will talk to my scrum master for the inputs and probably start working...thanks
    – cixerit231
    May 11, 2020 at 16:31

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