I'm a new hire at a job that has recently had high turnover of licensed staff. My job involves a lot of decision-making and 1:1 time with my clients that only I can do because I'm licensed to do it. I also have to document each session in detail. Once I take care of certain tasks and make a plan, I should be able to hand off the rest of the work to technicians who finish up with the client, with occasional feedback from me.

In my case, the support staff (technicians):

  • physically make themselves unavailable when the time comes where I need them (bathroom, break room, on the phone, cleaning, doing tasks that could wait)
  • act like they don't hear me when I ask for their involvement
  • say things like "I guess" and "I...can" when I ask them for help
  • say they're doing something and won't come across the room when I'm with a client and gesture or state that I'd like to tell them something (timely) so I have to stop what I'm doing or talk across the large room we work in (in front of several clients)
  • do the job inappropriately
  • tell me often how they "used to do it" (even though the way I chose doesn't have any drawbacks, and is only a slight variation).
  • tell me "no" very firmly and loudly when I made a request regarding a reasonable yet unpleasant task.
  • are passive aggressive, make little snide remarks to me, ask personal questions, and one of them openly show their jealousy towards my position.

These folks know fully well what they are doing. When other licensed staff come in to see clients, one of the support staff is visibly more helpful and agreeable; the other one stays uninvolved, and is consistently being paid to play on the computer. My being younger than them probably doesn't help. They've also been there years.

I'm getting behind in my documentation because I'm not getting support. I'm also spending energy deflecting their toxic behaviors, if they are around.

We really don't have a manager right now--there's a higher-up that works in another state (and thinks the support staff is great, by the way) and someone that's like a mentor to the licensed staff that works in another city--they check on us over the phone. I let the regional manager and professional mentor know that the support staff could be more helpful and recommended a group meeting. Someone bought us pizza, basically said "go, team, go" while the offending parties looked at their nails and played on the computer, and things actually got worse afterwards, although I stated some areas where we could improve and made myself open to ongoing communication.

I've tried

  • telling them instead of asking
  • ignoring the behavior
  • letting them know I could use more help
  • being be more friendly
  • being more assertive.

In general, I compensate by overworking & staying positive and acting like they're not getting to me. I definitely think they are toxic people, & that continuing to let them know how their behavior is impacting my work (which they already know) will only make matters worse. They're crappy because they want to be. I've worked with these types before, they try to push people out the door while kissing up to any senior leaders to secure their position, & in my experience, if management doesn't care, it probably won't get better.

I'm the one that has unfinished documentation, so I'm the one that looks bad. There's no objective way to remotely assess whether the techs are doing their job. I stay late, I rush around trying to get things done, the rest of the group eats snacks and giggles and chats and literally lies down at times. As a new person on staff, I'm the one whose work is likely to be criticized and scrutinized. I feel like if I complain more, I'll be seen as the problem. I'm still learning processes, & they definitely aren't making that easy. What can I do about this situation?

closed as unclear what you're asking by Masked Man, paparazzo, gnat, Philip Kendall, Michael Grubey May 29 '17 at 0:37

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  • Your post is way too long, trim it down to what is really essential to understand the problem, otherwise it is unlikely to get you any answers. – Masked Man May 28 '17 at 15:51

These technicians have a boss.

Go to that boss and say "I need a technician who can do [whatever is is you need them to do] dependably. I've had a hard time recently getting the support I need to be effective with the clients. The problems with the technicians is causing [details of client-related problems]. What can you do for me here?"

If this should be someone else's problem (and most likely this is their bosses problem) don't make it yours.

(BTW, you seem to have a bad attitude toward these technicians. If they are sensing your attitude, they may be "punishing" you for it. Try to see if you dial back the vibes you send out if that's actually the case. Maybe ask the other licensed staff how they do it.)


It does sound from your description as if your support staff are being deliberately unhelpful. You obviously need this fixed for the good of yourself and the company.

Start with the most obvious thing first - are you sure these people are supposed to be helping you as part of their jobs? I'm assuming you are sure, but if not check with your boss or whoever is in charge of these things. Also make sure you understand what timeframes you should expect responses it

Assuming they are supposed to be helping you, start by talking to them. The next time you don't get a satisfactory response, take the person aside, and tell him that you believe his job is to give you support in this way. Ask him why he is not giving it to you, and tell him that you need the support to do your job, and that the company suffers when you don't get it. Make sure he understands the timescales you need things by. Find out if there is a reason why they are behaving like this - it's possible that he doesn't understand that this is part of his job. Give him feedback on how you are perceiving his attitude - staying polite all the time, and not accusing him of anything. If he agrees to give you the support you need then fine. You may need to negotiate a bit on how you communicate, and what timeframes you can expect. Make sure the deal enables you to do your job.

If you don't get agreement, or if he doesn't uphold his agreement, then you need to go to a person who is in a position to give them orders to cooperate. Start with your boss, and if she isn't in a position to give them orders, get it escalated to someone who can. At the end of this you should have a clear statement of what you can expect in support, and the timeframe you can expect it.

Now you have an agreement, you should address every time the agreement isn't adhered to, first with the person themselves and then with their boss (remembering that there will sometimes be honest mistakes).

If these do not resolve the situation, I would expect disciplinary action to follow automatically once it is clear that your support staff are not doing their job.

You may need to do these steps for every person who you need support from.


Several of your coworkers are unhelpful, lazy, toxic people who may be sabotaging your efforts and might cause you to look bad in front of an absentee supervisor who's on their side?

Get a new job.

  • That's what these unhelpful, lazy, toxic coworkers would say. – gnasher729 May 28 '17 at 17:44
  • -1 That's not solving the problem. What will you do in your next job faced with the same situation? – rath May 31 '17 at 9:06
  • 1
    Maybe I'm naive, or I've been lucky in my career, but this seems like a work environment that is very rare. I agree that other answers are a better first step than mine, but if they fail... – Glen Pierce May 31 '17 at 14:15
  • If there are only toxic individuals, that can be handled. If the whole environment is toxic, it's an entirely different matter. Unless there is reason to assume that it is really the OP who just didn't pick up the right vibes and thus is the problem on their own, change of job is the right thing to do. What a waste of lifetime to spend Sisyphus' work trying to make these guys do what they do not want to do and nobody is responsible of making them do. How was this movie's title? "Get out!" - yes, that's what OP should do. – Captain Emacs May 31 '17 at 20:44

I am not sure why your documentation is behind as a result of the technicians not starting their part of the job when they should. It sounds like you do their jobs if they don't, and that you aren't actually able to do your job plus someone else's, especially when you feel unhappy about the situation.

If you're doing their tasks as well as your own, and yours are not getting done even though you're working long hours, then indeed you will be the one criticized and rebuked. What's more, the people who criticize and rebuke you will be right. You have to do your job. Nobody else can. As for the job of the support staff, let them do it. Perhaps they will start a little late, but get it done fine, and you can all live happily ever after. Perhaps they will get it done late, or badly, and they will be criticized and rebuked, which might get them to change their ways.

If you focus on your own work, you are likely to be happier, since it is something you can control. You will also have the "high ground" should you choose to continue to raise to management that they are not doing their work. A person who is behind on documentation complaining about others might sound like just a whiner or complainer. A person who is all caught up and on top of things pointing out that some other people are behind is more likely to be heard.

And when you trust them to do what needs to be done, stop trying to manage them, stop trying to make them do the work according to your timetable or your methods, stop trying to show that you can do their work as well as your own, you may find they get a little more pleasant. Of course, you may not. But you may.

So that's my suggestion. When you get to the part where you need to hand over to the support staff, hand over to the support staff. Give them the paper, or walk the client to the support area, or whatever it is that handing over consists of. Let them know you trust them to do it and are counting on them to do it. Go back to your desk, do your documentation, and move on to the next client. Put aside thoughts and worries of how the support staff do their jobs. You are not their manager and trying to manage them is actively hurting you.

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