I have been having trouble solving a task that has been assigned to me. My manager recently left for a two week holiday, but before leaving he gave instruction for myself and my coworker try to sit together and see if we can get past the problem. And if we were unable to then just to leave the task.

I did request that my coworker sit and help me solve the problem, but he told he had things to do which are more urgent, we will do it on another day.

Since then any time I bring up the subject my coworker just brushes me off, and finally pushed it to Thursday. How can I address this issue in the most professional and productive manner? Should I just send an Email to my manager informing him we did not have time to meet to solve the issue?

Side note : My manager is unhappy with me on this matter and my coworker is of the opinion that the issue lies in my work and that I should be able to solve it myself.

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    @JoeStrazzere good question, also "he told he had things to do which are more urgent, we will do it on another day." - sounds like there could be some tension between you two – DarkCygnus Aug 1 '17 at 17:17
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    @JoeStrazzere - Ever encounter a situation at work where you feel like you should know how to deal with it but dont? It happens. I am not sure it really matters as far as this question goes... For the next question. "My boss came back from a 2 week vacation and fired me because i didnt get anything done, is my boss a jerk or what?" then it will apply. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Aug 1 '17 at 20:12

How can I address this issue in the most professional and productive manner?

If your co-worker does not sit with you on Thursday, email your co-worker and CC your boss, and ask your co-worker when he can sit with you and collaborate with you on this task.

With this approach, you are clearly showing your boss that you are attempting to get assistance as instructed, and your forcing your co-worker to respond. If by the off chance your co-worker still brushes you off, move on to another task until your manager returns.

When your manager returns, they will see the email, and should ask the question for you if the co-worker has not collaborated with you.


First thing you need to do is to take full responsibility for the situation.

Now, you had an assignment that was above your skill level (this should happen to all of us from time to time, or we are not pushing for growth). When this happens you gave it a good effort (I assume), realised it would take you a disproportionate amount of time, and asked for help. This is just as it should be.

Now your co-worker is resisting helping, for whatever reason he has (too busy, doesn't care, can't do it, doesn't like you... this blame game could go on forever, and won't help you the slightest).

What I believe you should do is this, in this exact order;

  • give it your best effort (again), try a few different approaches
  • identify the exact reason your can't do the job
  • try to mitigate the reason. Read about how to do it, make simple analogue tests, split the problem into smaller parts...

  • ask your co-worker for assistance (again, he might have changed his mind)

  • if you still haven’t succeeded you evaluate the task priority versus your other tasks.

  • if this task is the highest priority you repeat all of the above

This will give you one of 3 results;

  • problem has been fixed
  • problem not fixed, more important (based on your judgement) stuff has been fixed
  • problem not fixed, but you have learned a lot

Now the last one is not as bad to present to your manager as it might seem. The important part is to remember to present all the solutions that did not work and why. Progress is made mainly by eliminating things that do not work.

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