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I recently began a new project with new coworkers. The project being huge, it involves 100+ people whom I have to talk to and work with on a regular basis. I don't know everyone and everyone's role yet. 95% of my coworkers are abroad and I never saw them, and 90% I didn't have to work with them yet.

My role is very broad and I guess that's why I find myself in charge of things I'm not supposed to take care of. For instance, there are some projects I ended up leading because the competent person is a contractor and not an employee of my company and they're not allowed to access the private documents we have to fill to make those projects succeed. That implies sending emails and scheduling meetings for somebody else. That somebody would then send me a list of people to invite or to send the emails to.

Two issues rose from this, the first one being that sometimes, some unknown coworkers would come to see me and ask me things about our project and they don't tell me who they are and what they want. This makes me afraid of being tested for social engineering and I look like a fool when I discover it's my boss's boss's boss who told them to come to me and they didn't tell me. The other issue is that sometimes I don't send the meetings invitations to all involved people at first because I've not been told to and I either have to send it at the last minute or there are some people missing at the meeting.

An example in which Coworker A asked me to organize a meeting and sent me the list of people to invite two weeks ago:

Coworker A: Regarding tomorrow's meeting, I talked about it with Unknown Coworker, they said that you have to do this to prepare it...

Me: So should I invite Unknown Coworker to the meeting?

Yes

In this situation I'd like to point out to Coworker A that they didn't tell me to invite Unknown Coworker in the first place but I'm afraid of being rude for pointing out a mistake. But the thing I'm most afraid of is being accused of not inviting the right people or inviting them last minute because I was warned to add them just a little bit before the meeting.

How can I indicate that I wasn't told to invite those people without sounding like accusing the coworker who asked me to plan the meetings?

  • "How can I indicate that I wasn't told to invite those people without sounding like accusing the coworker who asked me to plan the meetings?" Indicate to who, and why are you indicating this to them? – Gregory Currie Apr 3 at 8:57
  • @GregoryCurrie indicate to the last-minutely invited coworkers, because I don't like warning people on such a short notice. – avazula Apr 3 at 8:59
  • It sounds like you, or somebody should determine who the stakeholders are, forgetting to invite stakeholders is a pretty big deal if you are filling in the role of a project manager – Donald Apr 4 at 18:02
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How can I indicate that I wasn't told to invite those people without sounding like accusing the coworker who asked me to plan the meetings?

In this scenario the easiest thing to do is simply to respond:

No problem, I'll add Unknown Coworker to the meeting invite.

From how you've described it they aren't inferring that you were wrong to have not invited UC in the first place - projects of this sort of size are... complex and things shift from day to day.

But the thing I'm most afraid of is being accused of not inviting the right people or inviting them last minute because I was warned to add them just a little bit before the meeting.

I get this.. I really do, but the best approach is to deal with these problems if/when they occur rather than looking for trouble when it's not there yet. In your given example the fact that A has spoke to UC about the meeting means that they aren't going to be blindsided by the meeting invite but in scenarios where you haven't had this you can always phrase the meeting invite to the late addition like this:

Hi, A has asked me to add you on to the Widget meeting tomorrow - I appreciate it's a bit short notice but hope you can make it.

This way you aren't blaming anyone, nor even indicating that anything has been done that someone should be blamed for. But at the same time you are acknowledging that possible inconvenience of the short notice - and should the recipient decide to get grumpy over it (because some people.. well some people just want to get grumpy over nothing) you have made it clear who instigated the invitation.

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    Short and simple. There is enough to worry about at work. Why should we be fussed about coming up with excuses etc. And I will say, sending a letter to justify why the invite was so late, claiming it's not your fault would seem very petty. – Gregory Currie Apr 3 at 8:58

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