I joined a consulting company and was staffed on a project. I have several years of professional experience, I'm not a recent graduate. I worked as a consultant before, so it's not like I don't know the field.

However, this situation happens to me for the first time.

The first day I joined the project, I was given a max. 15-min introduction to the (very complex) project and asked to quickly create a presentation on the project for the highest management: a project plan, goals, schedule, roles. (I've been on the project for a while now and can say that none of these was clear or is clear now). I was given around 3 h for that. We arranged to discuss it let's say at 3 pm. I was also sent a long deck on the project and since I hadn't received any, even the most basic, info on the project before I started up by going through the deck quickly and coping the slides I found important for my task into the new deck.

After an hour or so, my boss came and told me to urgently send him what I've done so far. I told him I didn't have a presentation yet and intended to say that I'd been getting acquainted with the topic first. I was interrupted and asked to immediately send him my presentation. So I sent him the collection of random slides copied from the other deck with some structure and notes in it. I tried to explain my approach but wasn't given a chance. I was repeatedly interrupted.

He then told me I completely misunderstood the task.

Situations like that have repeated several times.

I'm wondering whether this is normal. How to understand whether I'm the problem or the environment is?

  • 5
    If what you say is accurate, I'd say they are intending for you to fail (probably as a scapegoat). Aug 22, 2019 at 20:08
  • 2
    whether I'm the problem or the environment is? - sometimes it's neither that's the sole problem, just the combination itself is problematic.
    – dwizum
    Aug 22, 2019 at 20:14
  • Is the 'boss' here your supervisor at your firm or the person you're reporting to at the client?
    – Affe
    Aug 22, 2019 at 20:25
  • @Affe, my supervisor at my firm.
    – monster_77
    Aug 22, 2019 at 20:25
  • 1
    @Malisbad as I see it, the question already has a clear goal: OP wants to identify the aspects that could be causing this issue, being environmental or personal. OP also has the goal to change that and improve this situation.
    – DarkCygnus
    Aug 22, 2019 at 21:40

3 Answers 3


I'm wondering whether this is normal. How to understand whether I'm the problem or the environment is?

Based on your description, seems that these things they are asking you to do are only expressed verbally.

A way to avoid communication problems and "that's not what I wanted" situations is to write down what is asked and expected, instead of only agreeing on it verbally. Ideally you should do write it down and then send it via email or similar to the ones involved, so everyone is on the same page on the things that were asked and should be done.

This also helps as a backup in case any feature or detail not specified magically seems to be expected. Everyone can check the written evidence of what was asked and realize that it was not asked in the first place.

  • Good answer but also of importance is to document the time they expect it. Was the boss expecting a presentation? If not, maybe next time ask if, or when anything is expected from you.
    – Dan
    Aug 23, 2019 at 16:58
  • @Dan yes, all those details: what is expected, when is expected, etc., should be documented
    – DarkCygnus
    Aug 23, 2019 at 16:59

Publicly asking if you "understand the language at all" is very rude. I wouldn't bother looking into why the supervisor is behaving this way, that's not your concern. Look after yourself first, and quietly look for a new job.

  • 3
    Rude and stressful things happen all the time in the workplace. As a professional one should at least try to tolerate them to a degree. Suggesting OP to quit and find a new job is a suggestion that has to be done carefully, and should not be given lightly. Please, consider adding more justification on why OP should quit. Why there are no other possible alternatives, etc.
    – DarkCygnus
    Aug 22, 2019 at 21:24
  • What's the worst that will happen if OP quietly looks for a new job, gets a signed offer in hand and quits this one? OPs description strongly suggests that his boss is prone to giving out verbal abuse under stress. There's better supervisors out there.
    – IDDQD
    Aug 22, 2019 at 21:51
  • My point was, that your answer currently lacks precisely that you just said (keep your job, quietly look for other, take it, serve notice period, leave, be happy), as it just says "look for new employment". Including details will better help OP take a wise and informed choice.
    – DarkCygnus
    Aug 22, 2019 at 21:53
  • Agree. Edited the answer.
    – IDDQD
    Aug 22, 2019 at 23:16

No reasonable person would expect this of you on your first day on the project.

This is probably indicative of larger problems. Like constantly being under the gun, behind on timelines, over promising and under delivering, etc., etc..

Is this normal? If what you've stated are the true and clear facts, and if you haven't omitted important details or left out part of the story, then I'd say that this is not normal. It may or may not be common but it's definitely not normal. It's also not indicative of a healthy organization.

  • 1
    Based on the OP's question, it sounds like he's a long time employee and knew of the project but not the scope. Perhaps his boss misunderstood his knowledge or vice versa. The OP should gather what is expected of him and if not, to ask.
    – Dan
    Aug 23, 2019 at 17:02

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