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I'm currently facing a bit of a challenge at work. I've been teamed up with a colleague who usually prefers working on their own projects. It's proving to be a bit tricky as they tend to avoid or delegate tasks whenever possible. On top of that, they sometimes miss important details in messages, leading to a bit of confusion.

It seems like they're not too keen on working with others and can be a bit indifferent when collaboration is unavoidable. When I raised the issue with my manager, I was advised to figure it out and work together.

One additional layer of complexity is that any targets set are for both of us since we're supposed to collaborate closely. If one of us falls short, it affects both of us, and vice versa. I could use some advice on how to navigate this situation and improve our working relationship. Any tips on effective communication or ways to encourage collaboration would be really helpful. Thanks in advance!

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  • Just some questions that would clarify things. Are you at the same level as he is ? Is generally "indifferent" or just when it comes to collaboration ? Also the most important one, is he looking to improve that at all ?
    – Or4ng3h4t
    Dec 6, 2023 at 11:27
  • So we're both team leaders, he doesn't seem very interested in working on anything he's not worked on in the past. It seems that they're not looking to improve.
    – Tfish
    Dec 6, 2023 at 12:57
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    That's quite a conundrum to me, you are both team leads, are you supposed to use your teams in collaborations, or is it work just related to the both of you ?
    – Or4ng3h4t
    Dec 6, 2023 at 14:21
  • the Idea is that we're meant to get together and plan things for both teams as we each lead a different project that interacts with one another. So we have to plan that work out and get it filtered down to each team.
    – Tfish
    Dec 7, 2023 at 8:39

3 Answers 3

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It's best to pass this upwards.

This is a classic case of your manager giving you his job. It's the managers responsibility to set the boundaries and working conditions. You don't have the authority to enforce anything so it can only be a struggle if you tackle it beyond what you have already attempted out of professional courtesy.

I'd talk to the manager and just leave it to them to solve. Because it's something they can rectify in one 10 minute meeting but you'll be compromising, getting frustrated and potentially all sorts of nonsense and finger pointing will occur.

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  • While I generally agree, you don't seem to address this part of the question: "When I raised the issue with my manager, I was advised to figure it out and work together."
    – Helena
    Dec 7, 2023 at 13:57
  • @Helena 'talk to the manager and just leave it to them to solve', you don't allow them to give you that solve it yourself line. Make them do their own job. If projects have issues it's on them.
    – Kilisi
    Dec 7, 2023 at 16:33
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    +1, The idea "to work it together" is a red flag to me for a manager problem (lack of spine).
    – yagmoth555
    Dec 13, 2023 at 21:12
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Question:

Have you asked your co-worker how they like to work? Some people aren't just very collaborative in nature - not through any conscious effort - they just tend to go off and do their own thing and they assume everyone else is doing their thing too...

But even people like that will, definitionally, need to collaborate at some point

The question becomes - how do they like to do it? Meetings? Probably not. What I suspect is that if you have a 15 minute standup at the start of the week and write down all the things that need to get done that week - stick them in Jira or similar tool and then the collaboration is will be they probably pick what they want to do and you pick up the rest and any where there is confusion - you are going to have to talk.

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As other answers mention, the right thing to do would be to enforce your manager to do its job. Since that doesn't seem to be an option (and he delegated his own function to you).

Talk to your colleague and ask him how he would want to do things. There are 4 important points IMO.

  1. How can I reach you if something is time-sensitive/Urgent ?
  2. How can I reach you when I want your opinion, but it isn't time-sensitive ?
  3. Where can I see what/when you're doing/planning to do tasks ?
  4. What are your teams strengths and weaknesses ?

With those 4 answers, you should be able to TRY (you can't force him to be open to collaboration, your manager can) and work out things, have a paper trail for everything so if/when everything takes a turn for the worst, it will show you tried your best to work with him.

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