I don't want to reveal the field I'm working in, but hopefully my question will be general enough that I don't need to.

I've been at my job for a couple of years now. The team I'm on has to work closely with other departments. While I love working with the people in my office, the other departments are making my life (and virtually everyone else of any standing's life) sheer hell. They ignore any and all planning we do to try and accomodate the needs of everyone we work with, bombarding us with "urgent" issues that they need addressed immediately. Recently a couple of my teammates have experienced the next level of this- essentially being required to do work for the other departments (and when I say "do work for", I mean actually doing the tasks the other teams are supposed to do). Deadlines are subject to change for the worse at any moment; last year a project we were originally given two months to do (and would have been difficult to complete in even that amount of time) suddenly became required in two weeks when one of the departments decided out of nowhere they needed something ASAP. It should be a measure of my team that we did, in fact, complete it during that span, but I feel like we lost a few years off our lives in doing so.

Needless to say, the stress is getting ridiculous, and I'm starting to get burned out. Upper-level management is as frustrated as we are, but there's nothing that can be done, for reasons I won't explain here. Some of my coworkers have the (possibly healthier) attitude that we can only do as much as we can do and we have to let the chips fall where they may, but I'm not the kind of person that can do this easily; I identify with my job, my performance, and the performance of the team I'm on too much.

Do I need to learn how to do this, however? Or- and I realize my description is brief, because I can't reveal too much about any of this on a public forum- does it sound instead like maybe I ought to start looking around? If so, how do I deal with the guilt I'll inevitably feel over leaving my coworkers with even more work to do once I'm gone? Will prospective employers understand my reasoning for wanting to leave my current job?

  • 2
    How possible is it for your department to say no to these demands? Not an emphatic no, but an "I'm sorry we don't have the time/resources to do this for you at the moment" no. Is there a possibility for you to hire new staff to share the workload? (Note that if a lot of training is required this may not help, especially with the risk that the work environment will drive them to leave as soon as they can.
    – Alpar
    Aug 1, 2014 at 7:52
  • So basically you're officially department A and someone from department B comes by and asks you to do work for them. Can't you say to dept B "That project sounds really interesting and someone from our department may be able to help you. Talk to manager XXX about getting someone from department A allocated to that project".
    – Brandin
    Aug 1, 2014 at 10:59
  • You should say something on the lines of "I'll be glad to work in your project/issue as soon as my manager approves and we agree on an implementation plan. Until then I will be unable to take any action"
    – user1220
    Aug 1, 2014 at 13:36
  • Prime example of what happens when managers fail to do their job and allow other departments to use their team as a doormat.
    – teego1967
    Aug 2, 2014 at 12:05

3 Answers 3


Upper-level management is as frustrated as we are, but there's nothing that can be done, for reasons I won't explain here.

This is exactly your problem. Of course something can be done about this, but upper management is choosing not do anything about it. Through that choice they create a corporate culture and environment that discourages accountability and encourages a "whatever" attitude.

Unless management acknowledges the problem and commits to fixing it, your only choice is to "live with it" or find a different employer with a culture that's more compatible with your own values.

  • Exactly right. This problem can only be solved by upper management. If they're not interested in solving it, the best way to cope is to find another job.
    – Roger
    Aug 1, 2014 at 15:11
  • I chose this, though all the answers are valid, because it most accurately reflects situations like mine. Upper management is not interested in solving the problem. I'm in the midst of some rather critical projects, but after they wind down I'll definitely be looking around. Aug 2, 2014 at 0:46

This is exactly the kind of situation that you and the team as a whole should be escalating to your manager and your manager's manager.

Either the requests need to be redirected elsewhere, more resources need to be allocated to the team or procedures need to be changed to give your team time to plan optimally.

Note that every one of these managerial responses is above the team's pay grade.

  • This is the exact type of issue that you keep bringing up the ranks (after proper documentation of course), up to the point where you are talking with the CEO who CAN influence department B. Aug 1, 2014 at 21:09

This is a big issue, yet a common issue in our industry, and I work in a big company as-well where this has been a issue.

The solution is to redirect EVERY SINGLE REQUEST to your closest manager and you tell the people requesting the service that nothing will be done unless directly requested by your manager. They should not contact you directly unless cc-ing your closest manager as-well. Features should only be requested by your manager.

At the same time you have to make it clear to your manager that if he chooses to put more tasks to you then other tasks will not be completed within the previously defined time-frame.

If your manager says that this is up to you then you should simply reply to the ones requesting the service with the message that they'll get serviced after your sprint (i.e. after your current tasks are over).

An exception would be in the case of bugs that are system critical, they should always get prioritizes, no matter what.

If you receive complaints from doing that, well, look around. It (usually) never hurts to look around.

Good luck.

  • I don't think the OP actually said that he was in software development, did he? Aug 3, 2014 at 11:40

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