/ I get blamed for senior colleagues' clumsiness. What to do?

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OneLifeOneHeart - on 08 Dec 2012
You may wonder why I ask on a climbing forum, but
1. This may be the most mature discussion board I have found in my entire online life (discussion quality, contribution, respect for different opinions/requests)
2. I have searched the internet for long and there seem to be no daily active forums about on-the-job issues - most deal with CV-writing and interview preparation.
3. The better I do my job, the more time (and resources) I will have for climbing :)

I am in my mid-20s, a recent graduate and at my current employer since less than a year. Since I am good at organizing (and maybe because I am friends with everyone in our team), our manager started delegating to me most team coordination responsibilities.

Just about the same time I joined, a new senior professional joined, too. We became friends quite soon, but I always had the impression that he was not giving much weight to what I said professionally since he is older and more experienced.
Even though he and I are both responsible for some of the most critical processes, he does his share of things on his own and doesn't like to discuss work-related things with me - but he does so with everyone else in the team!

In the recent weeks, this has caused some big trouble. The following scenario occurred multiple times:
- our manager asks me to ensure that the critical processes are ready for the next day
- I tell the senior guy, who tells me:"Okaaay, I'll do that..."
- The next day, I ask the senior guy whether he is ready and he confirms he did.
- Our manager finds out that it is actually not done and asks me why.
I never pass on the blame, but often speak as "we may have missed because..."
- I tell the senior guy to do it as it's urgent
- He is still super-relaxed, reading some online news website and asks "Is it actually that important?"

We missed out on loads of critical processes because he doesn't react to my instructions.
But what upsets me is that he first says that he will do it, but then doesn't, and then goes around helping others in the team.

I never like to tell on people, nor ruin friendships (even at work), but since I am accountable, I am obviously giving my boss the impression that I am the clumsy worker here - and he may soon regret giving me more responsibilities.

And maybe I am - maybe I should be more strict with the senior guy, even though he is more experienced?

I am scared to cause more tension, but would appreciate your advice on how to solve this.
If you do have resources or know other places where I might ask this anonymously, I would truly appreciate that.

Thank you
Lukas V-L - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to OneLifeOneHeart:
Grass him up. You dont deserve to suffer because he's a prick. Once can be forgiven, but if its a pattern of behaviour, fcuk him, hes asking for it. Taking it up with him wont help, because he's a tool, and he's now used to just mugging you off, because youve let him.
In reply to OneLifeOneHeart: Do it yourself. I'm intrigued by how you define "critical".
OneLifeOneHeart - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to Submit to Gravity:

Not sure whether there was a misunderstanding.

I asked the senior colleague more than once and in a checklist manner whether he had done what he was supposed to do, and he replies "yes, I did it" or "I am about to do it".

Given my current workload, it would be very unproductive to take on his share.

A less friendly solution would be to double-check together whenever he says "yes I did it".
annieman - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to OneLifeOneHeart: Aren't office polotics great. You have my sympathy.

I've a couple of suggestions. 1. when you have been tasked by your senior explain to him at that time who will be doing which part of the task, i.e. before the deadline is missed. If he sees a pattern developing then he will be in a position to change it. 2. Is it possible to do the work yourself?

Is the issue gender? I used to work in a heavy engineering company during the 90's. Whilst at the engineering level we all got on well with mutual respect but senior management made it very obvious the women engineers were a lower class. Now overcoming that is a different challenge.

As you are new to employment I'd like to add that not everyone will have the same enthusiasm for their work as you have. Maybe slow down a little bit. Watch and learn about office polotics. Try a few things and find out what works. Until you have mastered the art of Office Polotics then you'll be going nowhere. Once you can "play the game" then things will start to change in your favour.

Good Luck
Robin
OneLifeOneHeart - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to annieman: Thanks for your advice Robin.

Well, our team rarely interacts with the rest of the office/company and we have our very own "team culture", but apart from that - just to re-clarify - the guy I am having trouble with is actually a few months newer than me in the company. I have been just a few months longer than him. But he simply has more years of experience than me in the profession.

i.e. I started as a "Junior Analyst" and he joined a few months later, as a "Senior Analyst".

Our responsibilities are more or less as follows...

Myself:
- Communicating/coordinating what manager tells team to do
- Reporting all team results to manager and other directors
- Other projects
- Making sure most important industry is analysed every day

Senior analyst:
- Analyzing most important industry

Rest of the team:
- Each person analyses a different industry

Basically, I believe that despite being "junior", in my short time at the company I have already gained a wider range of responsibilities than the rest of the team, including the senior analyst.

To answer your question, with my current workload it would be impossible to take on his work.

If it's not his clumsiness, then I believe the only other reason which might cause some kind of discrimination is simply because I am younger and have a junior title...
Duncan Bourne - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to OneLifeOneHeart:

Be open honest and straightforward.
If you are being asked by your manager to do a certain task (which involves the person you mentioned) and the responsibility for that task is falling solely on you (ie you are getting the blame if it is not done right) then I would tackle it in the following manner.
1. Explain to your colleague that you are getting the blame for tasks not done and explain his role in this, then tell him that should an explanation be forth coming you will be compelled to refer to his part in it. As an alternative explain that you will tell the manager to ask him for an explanation. You have now made your position clear so that the next time it happens you will tell your manager with a clear concious.
You can tell him that you will not mention past discrepancies but that you will not take the fall for him in future.
Not telling on people is great for prisons and schools but in a professional environment accountability must be fair. By all means cut some slack but not to the detriment of your work. Set boundaries and keep to them.
Duncan Bourne - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to OneLifeOneHeart:
Question: Is he senior to you despite his lack of time in the post?

If so then I would from the outset tell your other boss exactly who is doing what on the project. If there are any delays simply say.
"I understand your concerns (or similar) I am just waiting on X to finish Y"
Be factual and avoid using critical language but steer the manager into making his own judgement
RichardP - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to OneLifeOneHeart:

Your manager gave you a job to do,
there are several reason for this,
1) he needs it doing
2) he needs to see that you can carry-out instructions
3) he needs to that you are capable of doing the work that you have been employed to do
4) he needs to see if you are competent for the job
5) he needs to see if you need training/ whether training that you have
received was sufficient

from what you have stated because you went to the senior analyst 1-5 above haven't been done.

If I were you, I would apologise and explain what has happened and say it won't happen again.

next time (if there is one) if your boss asks you to do something you do it. If you don't know how to do some or part of it, tell him and he should arrange for someone to show you

About 10 years ago I was running the electrical installation on a new IT centre for a school (I'm a was a 36 year old electrical with 20 years of experience and qualification in the industry).

One of the electricians (he was older than me and so should have be very experienced) wasn't upto the job because he didn't have the experience and skillset.
The skills he was failing at were straight forward and someone of his age and suppose experience should have been upto it.
If he had told me he was from a different side of the industry and isn't very good at XYZ,I could have arrange for someone to work with him and so the job could have been done correctly, or given him a different job to do. As a result of his lack of skillset/experience Time, Materials and Production was wasted.

This went on for a couple of weeks

Unfortunately I had to let him know that his services were no longer required. His response was "we will be 2nd fixing next week", my reply was "there is more to being an electrician then connecting some sockets and switches"

This was on a building site on a 13 week electrical program, there was only allowance for one member of staff as "non-production labour" and that was me as I was running the job. If I had allowed that guy to continue then I too wouldn't have been doing my job properly.

There are various reasons for why someone gives you a job to do, some of them more obvious then others.




AndyC - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to OneLifeOneHeart:

Your manager isn't managing very well if he doesn't know what's going on. If he wants you to coordinate the team then he has to make it at least semi-official and give you the necessary authority to do it. A lot of 'senior' people react badly to being told to do stuff by someone they perceive as being their 'junior'. It's only natural!

In the meantime, put the critical tasks you need done in an email to this guy with a cc to your manager. Then you have it in writing when it doesn't get done.
GridNorth - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to OneLifeOneHeart: I hate to have to say this but bureacracy is your friend. Apply a few Project Management techniques. Write out the task clearly and it's due date. Get signatures. Monitor progress and report regularly to ALL stakeholders.
Lukas V-L - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to OneLifeOneHeart:
Actually that cc'ing is something thats pretty standard practice at my work. There's more than one occasion I can think of where Ive bothered my arse to do something because I know someone else has seen an email telling me to do it.
OneLifeOneHeart - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to Richard Phelan:
Thank you Richard.

It is not written in any contract that the Senior Analyst must follow my instructions. The Manager simply tells me to coordinate and delegate.
It is also important to mention that based on my workload, I cannot take on even one tenth of what the Senior Analyst does - because I have multiple end-of-day deadlines to meet (whereas for everyone else it is weekly)!

I believe that if I had to pinpoint a solution, it would be as simple as that the Senior Analyst just followed my instruction in the very instant I ask him, instead of reading online news or doing other stuff that is not urgent.

Ideally, I think it would be enough if I just learned how to give him a sense of urgency!
AndyC - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to OneLifeOneHeart:
> (In reply to Richard Phelan)
> Thank you Richard.
>
> I believe that if I had to pinpoint a solution, it would be as simple as that the Senior Analyst just followed my instruction in the very instant I ask him, instead of reading online news or doing other stuff that is not urgent.
>
> Ideally, I think it would be enough if I just learned how to give him a sense of urgency!

Again, this is entirely your manager's problem, not yours! Get him to get his finger out and start managing this guy so that the work gets done.
GridNorth - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to AndyC:
> (In reply to OneLifeOneHeart)
> [...]
>
> Again, this is entirely your manager's problem, not yours! Get him to get his finger out and start managing this guy so that the work gets done.

Then kiss goodbye to being given any responsibility again.
AndyC - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to GridNorth:
> (In reply to AndyC)
> [...]
>
> Then kiss goodbye to being given any responsibility again.

And repeatedly failing to get the job done will obviously result in rapid promotion?

dissonance - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to GridNorth:

> Then kiss goodbye to being given any responsibility again.

it depends on whether along with the responsibility they have been given any authority.
Its a difficult one, I would be tempted to speak with the manager and get roles and responsibility sorted out and clarify exactly what can be asked from others.
Lukas V-L - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to GridNorth:
> (In reply to AndyC)
> [...]
>
> Then kiss goodbye to being given any responsibility again.

Not really. If the blokes senior, and he's taking the piss, its the managers job to grip him, not so much yours. Looking like a plonker because he's not doing his work, or kicking back and getting involved in office politics arent the way forward if you ever want to get anywhere.

GridNorth - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to AndyC: No, following my advice will get the job done or at the very least bring to the attention of those who count that someone is not pulling their weight and all without having to get confrontational. A lesson you might take on board.
dissonance - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to AndyC:

> And repeatedly failing to get the job done will obviously result in rapid promotion?

dilbert principle in action
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Cameron94 on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to OneLifeOneHeart: In the worst case scnerio his job or yours...

Feck him I think, if it was a one off then fair enough but if he does it several times then he clearly doesn't care if you're in the shit.

Speak to him or speak to your manager
Wonko The Sane - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to OneLifeOneHeart: As someone else said, make sure there is a paper trail in place. Make your requests verbally and back them up in email, clearly stating the task, the reason for the task and the deadline.


Also, you don't need to grass him up as such. Play it a bit clever.
Talk to the senior anylist first and tell him you are being pressured for his work to be on time and that the request is coming via yours and HIS manager.
It won't work probably, but that's ok, you've duly warned him.
Next, talk to your manager and say that the constant lateness is due to the senior anylist's workload, and that he obviously has work which is taking priority over yours and this is causing delays.
You have been fair to the senior anylist by giving him notice, and also by giving him an excuse for his lateness with your line manager.
Of course, it ISN'T an excuse, because your manager should investigate this workload and find that he could indeed produce the work.

In other words, while people all round may not like it, no shit sticks to you.

I spent 6 years working in a company where the three of us were considered to be teflon rottwielers.

It's just business. Firm but fair.
AndyC - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to GridNorth:
> (In reply to AndyC) No, following my advice will get the job done or at the very least bring to the attention of those who count that someone is not pulling their weight and all without having to get confrontational. A lesson you might take on board.

Can you be more specific - which part of your 'lesson' am I supposed to take on board? As far as I can see, we are largely in agreement, you want to invoke management processes and I am suggesting involving management in the process.

GridNorth - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to AndyC: I took your response to be a little confrontational, if it wasn't then I apologise. You are not really agreeing because your solution sounds like telling tales, with my idea it never gets to that stage as you are involving management from the outset.
AndyC - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to GridNorth:
> (In reply to AndyC) I took your response to be a little confrontational, if it wasn't then I apologise. You are not really agreeing because your solution sounds like telling tales, with my idea it never gets to that stage as you are involving management from the outset.

I guess there's telling tales and telling tales... but if you see my original post I suggest putting the task in email with a cc to the boss. Which is a lower level variation of the documentation process you suggested.

In the end, however, a manager cannot expect a junior to perform a management role without (a) giving them the necessary authority and (b) backing them up.

GridNorth - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to AndyC: OK perhaps we are in agreement really. I always found however that the application of some formality concentrated peoples minds a little more than just an email. Going on Project Management course was the best thing that ever happened to me, career wise, it was a real eye opener. The level of formality does have to be in proportion to the task in hand however so sometimes emails suffice.
Wonko The Sane - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to GridNorth: Which course did you do? When I've finished my NEBOSH, I'm looking at doing the Prince 2 course.
GridNorth - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane: I did one of those "boot camp" Prince 2 courses. It has to be said if that applied in full it really is a bit overly bureacratic. The advantage of Prince though is that it's used by Government so that opened up a lot of contracts for me.
Wonko The Sane - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to GridNorth:
> (In reply to Wonko The Sane) I did one of those "boot camp" Prince 2 courses. It has to be said if that applied in full it really is a bit overly bureacratic. The advantage of Prince though is that it's used by Government so that opened up a lot of contracts for me.

My thinking exactly. I know for a fact I will never implement everything on it, but for senior positions in construction it's being asked for more and more often. It just opens more doors.

I could say that about most of the training I've done though to be honest. Training to do a job I already do!!
Ava Adore - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to OneLifeOneHeart:

MTFU and snitch
OneLifeOneHeart - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane:

I think what Wonko said should fit with my values.

I really don't want to alienate a person whom I also go out and do sports with. Work is work, but colleagues are also human.

I can envisage telling him that I am under real pressure, that our manager is angry, and that when it's urgent it would be better to react immediately.

I can then tell our manager that I took action to try solving the issue, without blaming anyone specific.
Wonko The Sane - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to OneLifeOneHeart:
> (In reply to Wonko The Sane)
>
> I think what Wonko said should fit with my values.
>
> I really don't want to alienate a person whom I also go out and do sports with. Work is work, but colleagues are also human.
>
> I can envisage telling him that I am under real pressure, that our manager is angry, and that when it's urgent it would be better to react immediately.
>
> I can then tell our manager that I took action to try solving the issue, without blaming anyone specific.

what you are suggesting is pointless.
You are taking only parts of what I said.
You NEED to document what you're doing.
You NEED to be specific to your manager about who is causing the problem. Do it in the way I suggested and you are being fair to everyone.


If you just do it verbally to him....... he almost certainly won't change and you are on a downward path of being trodden on.

You need to take the responsibility fully within a framework of professional implementation of policy.

Basically, stand up for yourself because at the moment, you're not.

you will never progress with your current attitude. Hope that is clear!
OneLifeOneHeart - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane:

Sorry, just to clarify:
Basically, I should do what I just said but with simply add the specific details?
Wonko The Sane - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to OneLifeOneHeart: In my first post I was pretty detailed. In your reply, you seemed to be toning down the actions I described to just verbally telling him his being late is making your life hard.

You are correct in that, but you must do the other things too. Back up your conversation in an email.
If he is late again, follow the further actions of letting your line manager know that the assignment is late because the senior anylist's work load is too high and/or a lower priority than his other work.

If you JUST do it verbally, you're leaving yourself open again.
another_mark on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to OneLifeOneHeart: Yep, document everything. You are assuming that this isn't malicious. It might be deliberate.

start doing regular status updates. Not just this guy but everyone involved in the project. make sure project status and tasks are public.
rurp - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to OneLifeOneHeart:

Copy all communication your consider critical to both your boss and your senior analyst by email.

If your boss is aware when details are communicated it is clear who is to blame. Email provides the audit trail.

Your boss is talking to you not the senior analyst, he/she trusts you more than he/she trusts them.

Ask for the senior analyst's job. sounds like you are doing it already.

The senior analyst is not your friend he/she is taking the piss whilst you take the blame.

Take his/her job. Earn more, go climbing somewhere hot and dry.

good luck. It is scary to confront and cause tension but less scary than an unprotected rockover.
Father Noel Furlong on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to OneLifeOneHeart:

I'm probably too late to add much to the debate but when i was a student i worked in a fruit market. I was tasked with counting pallets into the shop floor. When asked by the boss how many had been moved i said "eight i think check with Simmy". The boss went mental. I only found out late that Simmy had been stealing them (one tonne pallets of onions!!!!!) and he got fired.

Maybe you've been asked to do the job because it's known that you're superior is crap. Never delegate anything which will look good on your CV.
birdie num num - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to OneLifeOneHeart:
You need to sneak round to his house and rim his teacups.
Timmd on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to OneLifeOneHeart:Wonko talks a lot of sense, you come across as a nice person (as you should be-the world would be great if everybody was), but I think this is a situation where you need to be ruthless/meticulous in covering your back, so it isn't you who gets the blame for things.

The world can be really harsh, so it can feel like a weakness to be nice, or so it can be used as one by other people. Make sure no mud sticks to you if it's other people who are causing problems.

Maybe see your job and work as important to your survival, which they are essentially, and act approriately so he doesn't spoil the progress you've made so far.

It's not fair on you if he does. (:-))

I like being friendly or friends with everybody, and it's taken me a while to learn how to deal with people are less than helpfull or friendly back, sometimes you can't actually change them and only limit how much of a problem they are for you.

Tim

bouldery bits - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to OneLifeOneHeart:

Welcome to the world of work Recent graduate.

Don't sweat it.
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Timmd on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to OneLifeOneHeart:Remember it's about your survival when dealing with him, some people just aren't reasonable back to you.

It's not being harsh, it's up to them to change. Make sure you're still friendly though.
mariechen - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to rurp:
> (In reply to OneLifeOneHeart)
>
> The senior analyst is not your friend he/she is taking the piss whilst you take the blame.

Yeah, sorry but my thoughts exactly. A mate just wouldn't put you in this sort of position like that. Sounds like not only doesn't he care much about his job, but he also doesn't seem to value the apparent friendship you feel you two share. And yes, sounds like you should be doing his job!

Jonay - on 09 Dec 2012
In reply to OneLifeOneHeart:

My Mrs was in a similar situation as you.

She's a trainee engineer, job title is still only a Draughtsperson.

She's been involved with a project right from the start and the design engineer X has been delegated by the projects engineer to oversee the whole thing.

My Mrs being the keen been that she is asked to help out whereever she could, by handling all the orders and making sure the workshops were doing things on time etc as well as the actual drawings.

To cut a long story short - she asked the design engineer to do things every week, he said too said "is it really that important that it needs done now?" "I'll check it later" (which led to the wrong grade of paint being ordered cause my Mrs didnt know that the type she ordered [the stuff they usually use] would chemically act against the metals used in the product) and he took 2 weeks off in the last 3 weeks before it's due to be completed.

They ended up being 2 weeks late for delivery which in the oil industry is megabucks.

They BOTH got a disaplinary at the end of it.
TheDrunkenBakers - on 09 Dec 2012
In reply to AndyC:
> (In reply to OneLifeOneHeart)
>
> Your manager isn't managing very well if he doesn't know what's going on. If he wants you to coordinate the team then he has to make it at least semi-official and give you the necessary authority to do it. A lot of 'senior' people react badly to being told to do stuff by someone they perceive as being their 'junior'. It's only natural!
>
> In the meantime, put the critical tasks you need done in an email to this guy with a cc to your manager. Then you have it in writing when it doesn't get done.

Agree.

Do an actions list and copy you manager in but make sure that you spell out timescales and expectations. You then have a trail which shows that you are fighting againt someone else who isnt takiung their side seriously enough.

I suspect that this other person will realise that you mean business and will start to tow the line.

muppetfilter - on 09 Dec 2012
In reply to OneLifeOneHeart: The best way to resolve this situation is to start by building evidence, send emails about everything. When conflict occurs then simply forward the archived email.
Tiberius - on 09 Dec 2012
In reply to OneLifeOneHeart:

Lets separate things here. Friendship is one thing, working relationships are another, don't confuse the two. You can be friendly with someone, but the working relationship needs to be performed also.

It's unclear from the above, are YOU this person's manager? If so then I'm sorry but you are not managing him well. Managing is not about just asking/telling someone to do something, but it also involves monitoring that assigned tasks are being completed and taking appropriate follow-up action if they are not.

If you are not this person's manager, then I feel that you have a duty to your employer to inform your line manager of items that you feel are affecting your ability to perform your job.
blurty - on 09 Dec 2012
In reply to OneLifeOneHeart:

It's a while ago, but i was in the same situation once. I manufactured a blow-up, where the older chap lost his rag with me and it all came out. Ironically he was moved onto something else & I got his workload - Careful what you wish for!

It's time for some straight adult-to-adult discussion with him at least I'd say. try this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transactional_analysis

Ridge - on 09 Dec 2012
In reply to Tiberius:
I'm a bit baffled by this too. It sounds like the OPs manager decides on the task priorities, gives a list to the OP and the OP distributes it. The manager then seems to avoid doing anything resembling management and expects the OP to do their job for them.

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