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How to say you're stuck? - Project Updates

I was recently given some work to do to present the next day and was told see what you can do. The problem is I tried to solve the problems for the project but I wasn't able to. I spent time researching the issue and had a question come up too which I asked my manager about. When checking in the next day with my updates, how do I say I'm at the same place/made no progress? I understand the issue for the project, know where to look, but am having trouble implementing the solution. I'm not sure how to start the conversation. computer-science internship

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Johanna’s Answer

Hi Sam,

Sometimes when I have a challenging project or task I have gotten stuck as well. In those times I think it's important to reach out for help from others (so it's great that you posted your question here!). You could brainstorm with a peer, a mentor, or your manager to find a path forward - maybe they have experienced something similar and can help you get started. I would also be ready to share the thought process you have worked through already as you tried to work through the problem/task on your own. This helps the person understand that you have been putting in the effort and also help them understand what you have already considered or tried on your own. I have found it's better to be upfront when you need help rather than procrastinating and hoping the situation gets better on its own - in my experience that hasn't worked out well. Good luck and stay positive - you'll work through it!
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Neha’s Answer

Hi Sam, Be honest! As much as you are feeling scared or skeptical of admitting that you are stuck, the one mantra that works in work environment is being honest. Whether it is with your team, team lead, or with your manager. there are a few ways of going about your question -

1. You can begin by talking to your manager. You can either use your scheduled 1:1 time, or schedule a separate meeting for the same. Instead of just saying that you are stuck, tell them what you have attempted so far, what has worked, what hasn't worked. Tell them about any solutions you are thinking of trying next. Give them as much details as possible, so they know that while you are stuck, you have put your best foot forward to find a way out. Also, document it. Start a doc with the issue, it's solutions, what you have tried. It is very easy to forget what you talked about, its always good to have a doc handy when it comes to corporate world.

2. you can be honest with your team. It depends on the team culture as well, but if you are working in an agile environment, it is highly possible that you have daily standups. Standups are meant to highlight problems/dependencies/issues where you are stuck to your team. The purpose is to highlight all of that such that any team member that can help you out can offer to help.

3. Ask a borader audience for help. If the issue is bigger/beyond your team, post it on a bigger channel. Find out what is the right team that can help you out with it.
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Brittany’s Answer

Hi Sam,
This is a great question and I can definitely relate!
I would recommend going through the detail of your process with your manager - explain to him or her the steps you took, what you thought about, the solutions you tried that did not work, etc. This will give some insight into the thought and process you put into it.
Going forward, it is also helpful to have these conversations early. If your manager is expecting a progress report the next day, maybe check in with him or her the day before to see if they have any advice for you, just to manage expectations.
Finally, use your network! Call others in your company/team to see if they have ever faced a similar problem or could help point you in the right direction.
Best of luck to you and know that as an intern, you are not meant to know everything! All projects are learning opportunities.
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Lucie’s Answer

Hello Sam,

If you are stuck the best course of action is:
#1 Assess the situation
Where are you stuck and why? Can you pinpoint if it is a lack of time, training, resources, etc.?

#2 Make realistic expectations
Weight how long it would take you to deliver your task(s), does not be to be precise but puts thoughts into it and be objective.

#3 Talk to your manager
Once you have assessed the situation and come up with a reasonable plan, you can now speak to your manager. The sooner the better, but if you can collect your thoughts and have a plan, you will sound rational and objective. Your manager hopefully will see that and help you going through that plan.

Hope this helps,
Cheers
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Kris’s Answer

Work with your manager, or the stakeholder assigning the work, to agree upon the specific scope of deliverables that are realistic to complete within the the given timeframe and can be prioritized amongst one another. If the scope is too large or ambiguous, the risk is that zero progress is made due to time spent thrashing or guessing where to focus; whereas a finer-grained definition of required tasks and outcomes will allow for more transparency and better management of expectations.
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Preneeta’s Answer

Hey Joahnna,

I would recommend that you be honest and ask for help. There is no shame in asking for help but make sure you learn from the experience and see how you can change things round for next time. Good luck.
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