I have a most odd situation: after a long career in a big company I made a switch to another big company but things have definitely not been as they were described when I was in an interview. The oddest thing is that I've been two months in a new job but I have nothing to do. I don't have any tasks, I'm not part of any team and I don't have anything assigned to me. I have a remote superior, who hasn't had time to meet me in person and who's not communicating much in e-mail even when I send mail to him. He has not given me any guidance nor tasks.

So far, I have used my time for learning and done courses provided by the company but even that I've had to do by myself, there's really been no guidance at all. I talked about this with the site manager who promised some jobs in the future but that hasn't brought any change so far.

I definitely wouldn't want to quit from the new job after two months, but I feel like I'm out of options? How can I get the guidance from my manager that I need?

  • IsoPalomies, I edited your post to remove some extra information and focus on one of your questions - how to resolve the situation without resigning. There are a couple other questions here already about leaving a new job early. – David K Oct 28 '16 at 19:16
  • Was there a separate hiring manager (not your remote manager) involved in the process? Have you tried contacting that person? – John Feltz Oct 28 '16 at 19:38
  • Have you asked other members of your department or adjacent departments if there is something that needs doing, or something you can help them with? Is there a "backlog" list of things that need doing, which you could pick something off? You don't have to wait for your manager. – keshlam Oct 29 '16 at 0:14
  • You might also find this question and all of its linked questions useful: What can I do at work when I have no work? – David K Oct 31 '16 at 18:27

Clearly there's some kind of disconnect here, and you need to figure things out before you're accused of being a slacker.

I would write an e-mail to your supervisor and explain that you've been getting yourself acquainted with company systems, etc. but would like to really dive into a project. Even better - schedule a face-time meeting with him, and ask in person. Be direct, don't dance around the issue.

Hi boss, I'd like to talk about your plans for me. I've been getting acquainted with the company systems, and would like to get involved with a team, or project. What are your thoughts about this?

If he tries to placate you with promises of work to come, ask for a timeline. Feel free to be a little aggressive about it:

him: Oh, I haven't forgotten about you. I'll have some work for you soon!
you: What sort of timeline are we looking at here?
him: A couple of weeks.
you: Can you commit to a date for me? I don't like letting my skills fall out of practice.

If, however, he ignores you, feel free to write to him again, or even call. If nothing is done within, say, a 2 week period, up the ante by sending the request again, and CC-ing the hiring manager.

Note: to clarify, I'm not saying you should stalk the man, but aim to have a serious conversation within a week, and results in ~3 weeks.

If another couple of weeks pass and nothing seems to change (or changes for the worse), then it's time to start looking for a job again. Don't worry too much about the short time you've spent with this company - sometimes a job is just not a good fit. That's what the probation period is all about.

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  • Good point on the probation period. It's as much for you to decide if it's a good fit as much as it is for the company to decide if you're a good fit. – Mkalafut Oct 28 '16 at 20:50

I was actually in a similar situation a few months ago. Every day I'd get on the daily scrum calls with a manager who was in another state. I never got projects or tasks assigned to me, never really had much to do and basically had to find ways to kill time.

Without proper guidance, learning things felt like a waste of time because I had no way of knowing if I was even investigating or researching the correct topics or technologies.

I was at that job for a little bit over 5 months before handing in my two week's notice. Got a new job that's been great so far after 3 months. Tons of work to do, a team and manager who are capable and willing to give assistance and guidance and I couldn't be happier having made the switch.

As much as it sucks, your best bet is probably moving on. I've been told that as long as you don't make it a habit (leaving companies after such a short time there), and can explain your reasoning as to why you left after such a short time to whomever you interview with, you will be fine.

Aside from that you can do what I did - and just ask daily what needs to be done or if there's any projects you can get started on or at least assist with. In my case I kept getting told that "work was on the way" and that "there's work coming down the pipe" that never came.

Good luck!

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  • Hi, this sounds extremely close to my situation and also, your solution doesn't sound so bad any more... – IsoPalomies Oct 31 '16 at 13:52

I doubt that you can get guidance if you don't have a project assigned to you.

I'd say that your first priority is to get on a project. You should ask, given your skills set, what's the holdup in assigning you.

If you are on the bench, you should develop additional skills that would be useful in getting you on a team. Any downtime should be a period of frenetic activity for you as you beef up your skills set.

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Unless there's something very unusual about your contract, you are being paid to sit in an office for 8 hours a day, not to work on tasks. You may ask your manager once if there is anything he'd like you to do, but if he still doesn't give you any tasks, you are basically absolved.

Enjoy your free time and having little to do, most people have the exact opposite problem - too many things to do, which causes stress and burning out after a couple of years from being overworked.

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  • I actually have ~20 years of experience in the business, most of it with very tight schedules and long days. I can truly say that having nothing to do is much more stressful than having constant work load. I do enjoy having tasks all the time ;-) – IsoPalomies Oct 31 '16 at 13:56

Speak to your manager in person or over the phone and raise the issue that you are not getting any work and try and find out what the root cause of this is and then once you know the cause, you can make an informed decision on what to do about it. If you don't get any satisfaction form your communications, leave. Leaving after two months is not that good, but leaving after 2 years with no new experience and lazy habits is worse.

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