A reader writes:
My workload is zero. I was told by my manager that I have to ask for work and that everyone else at my level is asking for work and is very busy. I have been here for just 15 months and was surprised at this comment during my yearly review.
Following my manager's advice, I sent an email out letting other managers in the company across the U.S. know that I was available for work and received no reply. My manager told me not to be paranoid, but that they cannot understand why I didn't get a response. I wasn't paranoid before, but now I am. I feel like I'm being punked. None of my peers at other companies, and my friends in other industries, understand this comment from my manager.
Now, my manager has to meet with our partner in charge to discuss this problem of me not being useful and asking for work, before it gets elevated to the HR department and I have to go on probation. I have to meet every day with my manager now to see why I am not working.
I feel like I'm going insane and it has put an emotional strain on me. Shouldn't the managers be responsible for staffing projects? Am I in the wrong for comparing my management experience with the managers here? Most, if not all of the managers in the company are PMP-certified (Project Management Professionals). I was thinking of reporting this to the Project Management Institute.
You're thinking of reporting this to the Project Management Institute, really? Don't do that. What do you think will happen, that they'll revoke your managers' credentials? That's not what will happen. What will happen is that you'll fast-track your exit from this company.
I don't mean to add to your paranoia, but what's going on here is Very Bad. What you're describing are not good signs. If you aren't doing any work, you won't stay on that payroll for very long. If you want to stay, you're going to need to ask for help, take your manager's advice seriously, and probably execute a change in your mindset about all of this.
Regarding your mindset ... You don't think your managers are doing a good job. You think they should be assigning staff to projects, rather than expecting staff to find their own work. You think you're more qualified than they are. I have no idea if your managers are doing a good job or not, but I do know that it's totally irrelevant if you're more qualified than they are, because they are in charge at this company. Also, there are indeed places where some types of staffers are expected to seek out and identify work. According to your manager, this is one of them. I suggest you believe him and stop focusing on whether you would run things this way; the reality is that this is how your company works, and you will only make good decisions for yourself if you stop fighting that.
You have two choices: You can decide this system isn't for you and leave, or you can try to figure out how to work well within it. Those are the only two choices.
If you decide to try to stay, you need to go to your manager and ask for help. Explain that you've been trying to take his advice and seek out work, but that no one is responding to you. And this is the key part -- ask him if he has any insight into why. You're going to need to be non-defensive and listen to what he has to say with an open mind. Maybe no one is giving you work because they're worried you won't do it well. Maybe they've found you difficult to work with in the past. Maybe you need to take a different approach in asking for it. I don't know what the answer is (it could be something else entirely), but since you don't know either, you need to seek your manager's help in figuring it out.
Hopefully he'll be helpful. If he's not, you should still ask him for advice about how to proceed. And if he's still not helpful, well, I'd start looking for other jobs, because you pretty much have to be doing work in order to stay employed, and it seems like the writing is starting to appear on the wall here. Don't ignore it.