TL;DR: By the end of the day, a colleague of mine told the high level boss that she must go home and that I can handle the task by myself. While the task had nothing to do with me except for her asking for my help during the day. What should I say to my boss, if I'm not ready to do the job for her.
A bit of a long read:
I have a colleague, let's call her Anna. We share the same office, we sit around 10 meters apart, but we never work together on anything.
This morning, while I was working on something of my own, Anna came to me to ask for my help regarding a specific project which I worked on for about 10 minutes, several months ago. Anna never worked on this specific project, but she does know the whole architecture and technology behind it better than me. Either way, I helped her, I did what I could and it only took around 5 minutes of my time. A couple hours later, Anna came and asked me to check some more things, which I did, around 5 minutes again. It happened once more a bit later.
*There's also a third side, which Anna should cooperate with in order to solve the problem, this third side is called John and only available by the phone.
The end of the day comes closer, the boss of my boss comes in and asks Anna how is it going. Anna tells him all her conclusions, which sum up to:
"I've got no idea, I believe it's on John's side, but I have to check it. Sadly I have to go home now. I've already late by 30 minutes, and really must run now, but Peter (that's me) is here, so he can do it instead."
Now... All in all, I honestly wouldn't really mind doing it for her, if not for many of the following points
- It's not my job.
- I don't know much about the project.
- She just threw me in front of the moving train
- It's the end of the day, and I was going to leave in less than a hour.
- She didn't think of talking to me about it beforehand
- Regularly she leaves the office 3 hours later, so something here's fishy either way.
I didn't argue with her right on the spot. John was on line, I really didn't want to sound unprofessional, and really didn't know what to say at that moment. I didn't even sit near them by that time, I was doing my stuff, they could discuss it between themselves in another office for all I know.
Later, when the boss left and John stopped the call, I began to consider my options for the next step. For clarity, I wasn't willing to do her job. I didn't like her behavior in the least bit.
My thoughts were as follows:
I can't tell the boss how it all went around, and that she just threw this task onto me. The reason is, he's not our boss (again, he's the boss of our boss), he simply doesn't care, he needs results. I might sound pathetic.
I don't want to tell him that I simply don't know how to handle the job. I don't want him to think worse of me. Again, it's not like he's going to fire me, but I would lose some virtual points.
I could go home too, whatever, not my job. That would be just cowardly and wouldn't look good in boss's eyes even more than anything else.
I can just man up and do the job. Not even considering that it might take me several hours, I'm just not ready to do something for her under current circumstances.
In the end, before she left home, I told her that I don't want to do it without her, and that she better call John (3rd side) and tell him to wait until tomorrow. While talking to John, Anna sounded apologetic for my reluctance to work with him, trying to convince him that I'm the bad guy here, or whatever. Later the boss came around and asked how's it going, to which I responded that I can't do it without her, so we (her and me) postponed it until tomorrow.
The question is, in two parts, what could I do and tell my boss to get the best out of the situation (considering I wasn't willing to do the job all in all). How should I handle it with her tomorrow morning.
Edit: Our real boss isn't accessible right now, hence I couldn't ask for his opinion