I started a new job 2 months ago. I was staffed on a project as a team member in a very small team. The rest of the team are very good friends, I was treated with distrust.

It was made clear to me from day 1 that my role on the project was to be very junior. I wasn't to lead the project. I wasn't to deal with major stakeholders. Basically I was assigned tasks that were very limited in scope. I actually brought it up with the project leads, since the role was more junior than what I normally do, but it was made clear to me that it was to stay like that. I wasn't informed about the most important decisions, nor participated in them. And that was fine to me! I didn't want to be "pushy".

The problem is, the project was managed in an extremely unstructured, chaotic way.

This had two consequences.

First, now it seems the whole project will fail and the lack of structure will definitely be the most important factor in that in my opinion. There was lack of task prioritization, clear communication and structure. The things I was responsible for aren't the root of the disaster, but yes, I received very contradictory feedback on them.

Secondly, it made my job virtually impossible. My solutions were accepted at 9 am, criticized as unacceptable as 10 am and it went like that for days. Or my manager claimed my solutions were excellent but then the second PM described them as unacceptable and I was repeatedly thrown under the bus by the first one who claimed to have never seen them before. My constructive proposals to deal with that failed.

I'm now afraid I will be blamed for the disaster, since I'm the new one. How can I secure that's not the case? I really did my best and can't see what I could have done better given I was excluded from the most important decisions and actions and given contradictory feedback.

  • Was the project already in progress when you joined?
    – sf02
    Aug 28, 2019 at 17:38
  • I'm in the team almost from the beginning. It's a short project. Aug 28, 2019 at 17:38
  • How many people are on the team?
    – DaveG
    Aug 28, 2019 at 18:31
  • You avoid getting blamed by updating your CV. Is this a job you want to keep for a long time? It doesn't sound like it. So, let them blame whoever they want.
    – rath
    Aug 29, 2019 at 15:39

3 Answers 3


I'm now afraid I will be blamed for the disaster, since I'm the new one. How can I secure that's not the case?

It's not for sure that you will "be blamed" for this, so don't need to dread on this.

When projects fail it's hardly just because of the action(s) of a single member, and in quite some cases due to poor management (except for the cases where the mistake made by the member is a huge one).

I think that as long as you did what asked in timely manner, and you have documented/evidenced that the things happened the way they did (your commit history, emails on the feedback they gave you, etc.) you should not worry about being blamed for this.

Again, be sure that you have documented and evidence of your efforts on the project, so it is clear that you did what was asked and there is no chance someone may try to use you as scapegoat.

  • I don't have any documentation. We were sitting next to one another. If I wrote them emails instead of talking, they would hate me even more. Aug 28, 2019 at 18:55
  • So you are saying that all changes, all feedback and everything they ask you is in spoken words? Emails are natural part of daily workplace life, why would they hate you for sending emails?
    – DarkCygnus
    Aug 28, 2019 at 18:56
  • 1
    yes, most people don't like being written to if they are sat next to you. It creates an impression that you need a CYA (which you do...). I do have some correspondence on the situation with other people, but not much. Aug 28, 2019 at 19:12
  • 3
    well... exactly because of this kind of situations is that you need a paper trail or some written document. Not only it helps to avoid confusion and "oh I thought you said...", but in case things go South there is evidence of the steps taken. I strongly suggest you start sending emails where you ask or confirm the requirements and changes they tell you. If you use Asana or other tools document it there also. If you write code and commit, make sure to explain in detail your commits and why they were made.
    – DarkCygnus
    Aug 28, 2019 at 19:14
  • 1
    @looming_disaster You should always keep some form of documentation. If email is unacceptable, keep a personal log of the time and who said what. While it might not be as absolute as an email, it won't bother your team members or management. It also gives you a bit more push back power when people try and blame you. I recommend you log each day in a separate file (to keep the created_date time stamp).
    – Shadowzee
    Aug 29, 2019 at 2:27

You really can't ensure anything, especially that you're not blamed. All you can do is make sure to have a written record (emails) of all discussion, but that really only works for reasonable bosses, and in a court of law.

The only advice that works: get outta there. Find a new job asap, and then, after you have a written and signed offer for that new job, give your current employer your notice, without even bothering to explain what they're doing wrong.

They're not interested in hearing about their own mistakes anyway - if they were, the situation would not be what it is. Just be polite and quit.

Chances are, they will try to blame you for something. Don't waste much time trying to prevent that - you can't.

  • Totally agree this place need to be left behind, Just one little addition, in case these 2 PMs are not entire company, you may have an option to deliver your point of view higher up the chain of command as part of your departure.
    – Strader
    Aug 28, 2019 at 20:00

They might try to blame you, but it won't help them. It's the team leader's job to ensure that a mistake by a junior team member won't have a big impact, both by limiting your work to stuff you can do, and by checking it. He would effectively be saying "this person is new and terrible, but we gave him all the important work to do anyway, and didn't check it".

You should also go to your boss's boss (and/or HR) and ask to move to a different team. Even if they can't move you, it puts your version of the situation ahead of theirs.

It will help your case if you can produce emails that document the behaviour you describe.

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