I have an experience of 3 years in a consulting firm where I've participated in a big variety of projects. We were a small and cohesioned team and we documented it all so we could all learn from each other. In addition, by giving trust and coaching newcomers, we tried to maximize learning. That occasioned a very productive team and I did a huge progress there.

I've been put some months ago in a long-term project (very similar to many I've already successfully done but more extensive in time) in a customer with a different team where I basically work with a senior consultant and I feel my learning process has stopped.

I am only asked to do low profile tasks while the senior consultant does practically all the work. I try to ask at least once a day how is the project doing and he hints me very briefly so I don't know which tasks is he performing. If I insist on Lynk he puts its state to "Do not disturb" without even answering so I can't send him more messages.

The most of my workday I do nothing apart from offering my help from time to time (I just make research for myself). We have a quite big delay in the project but anytime I offer me for help I get a "I'll do this myself" for the most tasks.

I don't feel trusted and I feel so compelled to prove I can take the work I get very stressed and I've started making mistakes I didn't do before and I've got reprimanded for this.

The biggest reason I'm in this job is that I wish to learn from the more experienced people but in this case I fell I'm not longer learning nor helping the company.

I don't need much time from the senior consultant, only to get some tasks assigned from him so I can research the documentation and go ahead. If make a mistake there is not a problem to me to work extra unpaid hours to fix it.

Our project leader sits in fornt of us so knows everything but is giving the entire responsability over me to the senior cosultant

I don't know how to make my point, I feel both my senior consultant and the project leader are hostile to me, they've been working together for many years and I'm just a newcomer so I don't feel very well confronting them.

I can't go to another project because I'm the only person with a suitable profile in my company that can do it, it's a very strategic project for them and that would mean lose one of our best customers.

How would you make your point and keep progressing in an environment like this? Would you quit job?

  • Do code review and / or independent study all day long.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Jan 9, 2016 at 22:36
  • Is the profile requirement just to make the customer happy? Your company is having the customer pay for two people, but only one is working. If they're going to be this dishonest, they can lie about the qualifications of someone who does nothing.
    – user8365
    Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 14:55
  • Do you have anyone you can talk to outside the project team about this, even if it means escalating above the project manager? If you are indispensable then you have a reasonably strong case for them to keep you happy. As for the senior consultant, can you walk over and talk to him instead? Even if he tells you to go away right then, tell him what you need from him and get him to agree to come and help you at a specific time later.
    – Rup
    Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 17:41

4 Answers 4


Let me be blunt - your job isn't to keep learning, your job is to perform.

Yes in IT we do need to learn new stuff to keep up, but that has nothing to with the actual tasks you are asked to perform. Companies don't pay for people just to learn and they actually don't care if you learn anything if you do the work you are assigned well.

You went to a new team and haven't earned their trust through performance yet. Why on earth would they want to assign you more work if you have made mistakes in what you were given or if you are continually asking for work that you don't already know how to do? Assigning work to you is a risk and it is apparent from their behavior that they don't believe the risk is worth it.

Now clearly some of this is because they do not appear to be the types of people who see value in mentoring and part of this is due to your own poor performance and your inability to play office politics effectively. Truth is though, when you are junior or new, the onus is on you to adapt to them and not vice versa. If this isn't how you would run a team, then fine, don't run a team that way when you're the PM. However, you are not and you need to adapt to how they do business. And you need to get out there and do some serious fence mending before you get fired.

First action is to be meticulous in the work you do for them from now on. No serious mistakes at all and no minor mistakes if possible. You have the time to do things right the first time. So do it. No excuses. You have to impress them and you haven't done that so far. There is more latitude for mistakes once you are trusted. There is none in your current situation. This includes doing things the way they want them and not the way you would prefer if there is a professional disagreement. This is not say you can't disagree professionally ever, but you can't until you gain their trust.

If you are as you say the only person with the right background to be assigned to the project, then there must be tasks that you are qualified to do that they are not. Ask the PM to be assigned to those tasks. They brought you there because of a particular skill set, so ask for tasks relating to that. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES mention wanting to learn new stuff or needing to learn new stuff to do a task. Concentrate on helping with the skill set you currently have until you are trusted.

Talk to them about how and when they want you to communicate with them If the senior turned Lync to Do not Disturb, that is a sign that you were being a pest. This is not the way to earn trust. You need to have sensitivity to their schedule and needs as well as your own.

Do ask for work every day and ask the PM not the senior dev. If he tells you to ask the senior dev, then ask him and when he doesn't give you any work, tell the PM that you are not getting anything and to please assign something. Volunteer to do the tasks no one else wants to do. Yes this is scut work, but it has to be done and if you do it to an acceptable level of performance you will build trust and you will be building a basis of having done them favors that entitles you at a later date to ask for favors in return.

You may very well need to clear the air. Right now, you know they don't appear to like you or want you on the team. What you don't know is exactly why that is or what you need to fix to be a better fit for this team. Sometimes, it is not that they dislike you but that they are just too swamped to handle the extra task of bringing someone up to speed. Or perhaps you have made some mistakes that made them lose trust or maybe they just didn't want another person on this team. Or maybe they don't actually know what skills you have that can help them out. They may not even know that their actions are bothering you or that you aren't delighted to have nothing to do. They may hate your personality or think you are too pushy. Who knows what they think.

But you can't fix a problem until you know what it is. So I suggest you tell them that you are concerned about how you are doing since you don't seem to be progressing to more important tasks and then ask for their feedback on your performance and what you need to change to make it possible to contribute more fully to the project.

What you hear back may be painful. If they were happy with you, there wouldn't be this issue. Some of what they say may be true and some may not and some may be a matter of having different perspectives. What ever they have to say, hear it out without any defensiveness or attempt to respond until you have heard everything and had a chance to process.

You can't fix what they don't know about, but even if you disagree with their perceptions, they aren't going to change until you know what they think and then make a plan for fixing the perception, if not the actual performance. You have to be aware of perceptions as much as actual performance because they are going to judge your performance based on their perceptions.

In judging performance, perception is all there is. This is why people who quietly work in the background and never have an issue fail to get the rewards they deserve because no one above them perceives the work they did as important or difficult. It is why some people get rewards when they don't appear to many others to have contributed much. They have taken the time to manage the perceptions of those above them though and so their bosses think they are great.

In the long run, while you have to try to fit into the team the way they run it, not everyone is a good fit for every team. You may or may not succeed in turning this one around. At some point, you need to look out for yourself and move on if the team isn't working for you after you have tried to really make it work. I am not a fan of the "run away at the first sign of problem" mindset that some people have, but you also don't want to stay in an environment where you are not happy and they are not happy with you and you have genuinely tried to fix that. In this case, it is not your problem that they would lose the client if you left, so don't feel guilty. If that is actually true, then it is up to them to make sure you are happy.


The first step is to quit whining/pouting about not being included. Unless the two coworkers have a vendetta against you they feel that the project can be done without you right now faster. They feel you are a hindrance. So do the following:

  • keep updated on the project.

  • if you get even the smallest task make sure it is done to perfection. If you can't do it tell them right away.

  • try to find some small part of the project that you can bind yourself to that is upcoming. Therefore you can work on it before they do and they can choose to discard your work or not.

  • if you can't do that see if there is an "extra" that you can add to the project that would be cool but they don't have enough time to do

    • other than that I would start be learning similar open sourced projects and pick up best practices and techniques for what you are doing.

If their attitude continues or if you screw up again I would start looking for another job. Not because of the poor work situation but because they are probably just waiting to fire you.


It seems obvious that they do not trust your capabilities and/or do not like you personally. But you're getting paid to sit around so at least there is that. Complaining about it too much might mean they decide they don't need you sitting around getting paid.

You need to address your errors, if you hardly have anything to do, yet you are making big mistakes, that is a serious issue and will not help with trust or confidence in your abilities. So you need to get that sorted before you start making whatever point it is you want to make in terms of communicating.

I have been paired in the past with people I do not trust to fulfill the job, and I treated them much the same way you are being treated. The only way that my attitude to them would change is if they proved their worth in some way. Which would be very difficult for them since I kept them out of the loop.

My advice would be to do what you can, and make sure whatever you do is beyond reproach, because everything you do will be scrutinised. If your work is faultless eventually you will earn trust. Someone fixing errors in unpaid time in anything less than emergency situations is not sufficient.


I faced a similar situation, and this is what I did. I went to the project lead and mentioned that I was willing and ready to take more responsibilities in terms of work.

If the project lead is sensible, he will understand your concern and give you more work. But if it doesn't pan out that way, I will suggest you to continue doing your work sincerely and give it more time.

3 months into a project is usually a good time to judge the work ethics of the team. If the situation doesn't change for better, try to move to a different team.

The last resort, after exhausting all the aforementioned options, is to quit the company. At the end of the day, it is all about adding that one extra line in your resume every year, and if that is no longer happening, it's time to move on.

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