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I started a new position on March 1, and while it is in a field that I absolutely love, I am challenged by unclear direction, new expectations and interesting team dynamics.

Our manager is very "hands off". Normally, I would welcome this, but there hasn't been clear direction given on exactly WHAT I'm supposed to be doing. The department is going through a massive change and I think the department is tasked with recommending and managing these changes, but all we've received is a rather generic PowerPoint and being split into two sub teams. We were left to figure out the rest.

Which brings me to the team dynamics. My assigned team consists of two "seasoned" employees that have been in the department for over ten years, me and another new team member that joined the organization one week before me. Because our manager gave us this PowerPoint and told us to "run with it", there's no defined roles within the team, and our team meetings are all over the place. The two "seasoned" employees seem to be a bit "checked out" and not interested in the process... they just want the end result. The other "newbie" is clearly looking to bigger and better things and has started taking over a bit. She presents her ideas and doesn't really ask for input or help. She's already shown what she's done and passed it up the line without including the team. I, on the other hand, am still just trying to figure out what's going on. I'm not comfortable in managing processes when I don't KNOW enough to even start. I like to get the lay of the land before jumping in, so I am feeling steam rolled.

I want to contribute, but feel like the other new person has her own agenda and the seasoned employees don't care. My fear is that sharing this with the manager would make me look like a whiny brat that can't play well in the sandbox with others. Any suggestions?

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    Is it possible the other newbie's agenda is just "getting things done" rather than moving on to other things? It sounds like at the moment the two experienced people aren't really leading, and you're not in a position to because you haven't got the information you need? – matt freake Mar 30 at 14:44
  • Welcome new user, in general terms what industry is this? ie are you guys gardeners, programmers, chefs .. ??! – Fattie Mar 30 at 15:09
  • "passed it up the line without including the team" - might be ok eventually, but if you're coming in as a new manager without knowing the flow of the organization, IMO for the first few months you need to be in the loop on everything, specifically so you can be there to ask questions, work out the unknowns you describe (vs being there to give directions or rearrange things at this time). Let reports know this directly. – Pete W Mar 30 at 15:52
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    I would love to say that the other newbie just wants to get things done, but she's doing things behind the scenes and not sharing... leaving the rest of us out. – TinyBlu Mar 30 at 15:54
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    @TinyBlu, Normally, there should be a team lead in your group of 3 workers. This leader should have meetings to ensure that all team members are in sync and know their tasks. All team members should report to this leader who represents to the team to communicate with the manager. This means each team member should not go around the lead to communicate with the manager unless the manager specifically wants to talk to each person separately. – Job_September_2020 Mar 31 at 3:17
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So summarized,

  • you are new in a team that is hardly managed at all.
  • the two "seasoned" employees are mediocre at best and don't see the big picture.
  • because you are new you are still a bit unsure what to do exactly and how to contribute. (nothing wrong with that btw)
  • the other new employee seems to know what she has to do, takes initiative and gets things done.

I think the best you can do is to watch and learn from her. Also I think there is a good chance she will be your manager soon, so another reason to try stay on good terms with her.

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    Yes, perhaps even work with her if possible. She is the only one showing initiative and formulating plans. – Kilisi Mar 31 at 3:23
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I want to contribute, but feel like the other new person has her own agenda and the seasoned employees don't care. My fear is that sharing this with the manager would make me look like a whiny brat that can't play well in the sandbox with others. Any suggestions?

Leave the other team members out of the conversation. Ask your manager what YOU should be doing and what is expected of YOU. Tell your manager that you're unclear on what your role, objectives, and tasks are. What your other team members do is immaterial.

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  • This is helpful. I also fear that going straight to the manager with my own contributions would be a repeat of what this other new member is doing. If we're all going our own way, why be on a team at all? – TinyBlu Mar 30 at 15:57
  • @tinyblu you’re not all going your own way. But you are all individuals. It is your manager’s job to make sure that you’re all heading in the same/right direction. – Kaz Mar 30 at 16:26
  • @TinyBlu just ingore the organizational structure if it is in the way of getting your job done. Too much hierarchy thinking is bad imo. If talking directly to the manager gets the job done, do that, if there are reasons why work might improve if you talk to each other as a team, then ask her about those things (explaining what you want to coordinate on). If there is no overlap in what you are doing anyway then that might not be necessary at all. It really depends what you are doing – Felix B. Apr 5 at 14:32
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Go to your team lead (whoever has that function, whether it's your manager or one of the "seasoned" team members) and ask them to clarify how your team operates.

I say this because, from your comments, it seems like the real issue here is that the other team member is not following the team standards that you think should be followed -- sharing their work with the team, looking for input from the team on it, etc.

Perhaps your colleague's work style is compatible with how the team has decided it wants to work, or perhaps it isn't. First you need to find that out. If it isn't, then you (with your team lead on board) can try to persuade her to work more in the team's mode.

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