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Manager at a new role has assigned a senior teammate to help with onboarding, who has been very uncooperative. At some point she simply dropped out of a call, answered yes when I asked if she would return, and never did. For any questions I bring up she gets borderline belligerent and provides the most basic answer possible that is only remotely related to the question for the sake of compliance, without trying to help me.

Incidents like those tell me I should just use other resources, but the manager has set up daily calls with this teammate. What is the least dramatic way to tell him it is the best to cancel those?

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  • The calls are between me and her, to help with onboarding
    – Layman
    May 12 at 15:45
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    Mostly stopping the calls. I don't want the manager to assume I am being helped while my time is actually wasted
    – Layman
    May 12 at 15:51
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    @Joe Strazzere I think the OP is the one being onboarded! May 13 at 9:15
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It sounds like the manager has annoyed the person they tasked with on-boarding you by forcing daily calls, and it’s had the opposite effect of what the manager was hoping to accomplish.

If the calls are just between you and the senior coworker, just use the next call to make arrangements that are a better use of time. Ask your coworker what they think would work better.

Maybe you use email as Kilsi has already mentioned, and only call if you’re really stuck on something. Maybe your coworker could recommend someone else to ask for certain types of questions so the on-boarding takes less of their time.

If you approach this problem from the perspective that the senior coworker’s time is valuable and they’re annoyed at your manager for insisting on daily calls and not necessarily annoyed with you, it may help with the attitude problem. If you approach it from the perspective that you need to report back to the manager that this coworker is not happy about the task they’ve been ordered to do, you may burn some bridges you didn’t have to.

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  • I think this answer is great, I'm just not sure I'd call insisting on daily calls micromanaging. When I've been on-boarded it's required a lot more than daily contact. If anything, the manager may have been trying to help by attempting to limit the communication to one block a day. May 13 at 15:03
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    @mattfreake Yeah I don't think I did a great job of expressing my meaning there. I will work on the wording a bit later. My feeling was that the boss unilaterally insisted on some formalities that the senior coworker felt were unwarranted/intrusive and maybe that is contributing to them being uncooperative. I don't think a boss laying out a framework for what "on-boarding" looks like is micro-managing, it just seems like there's something more going on in this specific case.
    – ColleenV
    May 13 at 15:11
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When people aren't helpful it's sometimes best to just quietly work around them especially when you're new to a job and haven't established yourself. So daily calls for me would be just short meaningless pleasantries.

My usual policy even without your problem is to use the call to inform someone that I will be emailing the details. It creates a trail, which can be useful, and it's less intrusive as they can answer in their own time, plus of course it gives you something solid when you need to follow up.

Anything else creates drama I don't need at a time when I should be focused on creating a good impression of myself.

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    What about the part OP added in their comment: "I don't want the manager to assume I am being helped while my time is actually wasted"... The manager will expect OP's quick improvement, assuming real help taking place. How to bridge that gap between expectation and reality? There is a risk of OP getting seen as slow, or not worth the investment of the onboarding effort (when actually, no investment is taking place). How to fix that efficiently?
    – Levente
    May 12 at 17:15
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    @Levente the manager should be cc'd as a matter of course. So aware if help is being given or not.
    – Kilisi
    May 12 at 17:39
  • It feels like the senior member got volunt-told to be the new hire's temporary assistant. Onboarding doesn't really work like that, and it really should've been the manager's job. The senior staff can step in for something specific and planned, not a general "help with onboarding" task.
    – Nelson
    May 13 at 8:43
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What is the least dramatic way to tell him it is the best to cancel those?

Hey Colleague! I think I am getting hang of the work now. Shall we cancel these calls for sometime and I will check back with you if I need help?

If your colleague is behaving the way she is, then she probably is looking for a way out and you can just offer her what she wants.

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    Yeah, but in the meantime the manager expects a speedy progress with familiarization/onboarding, for which they arranged the process in the first place. Now cancelling something that doesn't work is already a win, but how to make up for the loss of help? How to meet the manager's expectations regarding progress? Ask someone else for regular help?
    – Levente
    May 12 at 17:20
  • @Levente Are you the OP with different ID now? Anyway, I was just answering the only question which was in the post. i.e. how to cancel the call. If you have more questions which you have posted in the comment, you probably should update the post as well. I will update my answer as per that.
    – PagMax
    May 12 at 17:30
  • I'm not OP, how did you arrive to that conclusion?! What proof can I give? :D
    – Levente
    May 12 at 17:44
  • On your cue, I considered adding a suggested edit; but maybe that wouldn't match any more with answers others have provided already... so, for this reason I won't.
    – Levente
    May 12 at 17:58
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    @Layman Well you did misunderstand. I was just surprised how come Levente had more questions than you and genuinely thought you have two IDs and accidentally commented with other ID. (I have done that on my YouTube videos so I know it is possible without being a sockpuppet). In any case, I learned a new word!
    – PagMax
    May 13 at 14:36
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Sometimes you'll have the due dilligence to do something in order to be on compliance.

You say there's an onboarding, it shouldn't last long, what I can advice is, tell your manager that this coworkers is already super "onboard".

Else you can just hold for a few days/weeks until the onboarding is over.

But really, telling your manager YOU FEEL this coworker is not cooperative, tell him why and just expect the best results, if you FEEL this might put you in a dangerous position just hold on and wait.

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