I took a task which our TL/team couldn't do but it soon exploded into a mammoth of a task and only way to make it work is to make it from scratch whilst the deadline was 3rd July (I wanted to prove myself). I worked even on the night before and on weekend but couldn't meet the deadline as there were many hurdles such as the server won't respond to API request or I finding last moment constraints. But I keep telling my manager that it will on Monday (today) but I was again slow because It was a new task for me. I had sudden guests today and I told my manager I will show him work tomorrow morning as he wants to demo it because the launch of the website is very near. Already I feel that I have damaged my repo by taking on a task which no one wanted to take. Here is some background.

What can I do now because our office server is down too and I cannot access site assets make API calls and even If I do I do not have enough time to do/test and deploy It which I told my manager I will do.

How can I talk to my manager as he must have told his senior of demoing/showcase

  • I can only say get some sleep. You will not solve problems better or make a better case for yourself when you're not thinking clearly due to lack of sleep. Don't panic. Get a good night's sleep. Reboot. Then communicate. Then implement.
    – bytepusher
    Jul 7, 2020 at 0:01
  • Are you able to estimate the remaining time with any real accuracy or are you still in "R&D mode"? Have you communicated the potential risks and challenges in doing something entirely new or did you tell your manager you'd be able to deliver it by a hard deadline?
    – Lilienthal
    Jul 7, 2020 at 6:56

4 Answers 4


The current situation

Talk to your manager ASAP. Don't fall on your sword, simply inform them of what is unexpectedly causing a delay and inform them how long you suspect the outage will take.

Note very clearly here that "how long the outage will take" is not the same as "when you will deliver the end result". You cannot know if another unexpected delay will happen and you should not make any promises based on the assumption that it won't. It's already bitten you twice.

How to handle this in the future

Never make a promise you cannot keep. Even if it's not your fault that you couldn't keep it.

As an employee, if you want to be liked/well reviewed by management, you have to adopt a role of handling a workload without management needing to be up to date on the nitty gritty details.

But this also means that management relies on your communication to not mislead them, since they can't "know better" since they are not up to date on the minor details and whether you may or may not be contradicting them.

Take the following example: at 8am, someone asks me to pick up a task on the backlog. In either case, it will be done by 1pm, which is longer than usual because there were issues, but which of these chat histories makes me look more professional:

  • [8:00am] Manager: Hey could you pick up task 123?
  • [8:01am] Me: I'll look into it right away.
  • [1:00pm] Me: Task 123 has been finished.


  • [8:00am] Manager: Hey could you pick up task 123?
  • [8:01am] Me: I'll look into it right away, it'll be done in 30 minutes.
  • [8:35am] Me: I have to develop it from scratch because the workload exploded. It'll be done around 10am.
  • [9:58am] Me: I can't work on the task right now, I have sudden guests right now. It'll be done around 11:30am.
  • [11:15am] Me: Our office server is down and I cannot access site assets to make API calls. Even if that is resolved, I do I do not have enough time to test and deploy before 11:30am.
  • [1:00pm] Me: Task 123 has been finished.

If management sees the second happening, they just see a bunch of excuses why the work wasn't done on time. That is a series of red flags that this employee is erratic, unable to accurately assess situation beforehand, prone to distractions (guests!?) and fails to meet their own deadlines time and time again.

By making promises you can't keep, you are giving yourself opportunities to fail. If someone repeatedly fails, even if each individual failure can be argued to not be their personal fault, that's going to leave a sour taste in people's memories.

But if you stick to the first, where you don't make any promises and simply state facts, those inferences are not made. Management doesn't know the specifics of the task (which is why they are asking you do to it), and you never made a promise that you couldn't keep.

Don't inform them of things they don't need to know (and want to be bothered with), unless they specifically ask for information, e.g.:

  • [8:00am] Manager: Hey could you pick up task 123?
  • [8:01am] Me: I'll look into it right away.
  • [11:13am] Manager: Has task 123 been finished yet?
  • [11:15am] Me: There are some issues with the office server causing a delay, I'm already looking into it.
  • [1:00pm] Me: Task 123 has been finished.

This still looks professional. You come across as both handling your task and dealing with additional work as you come across it (i.e. the server issue).

Even if management had asked for an update at 8:30am, 10am and 11:15am, and you had to explain all three of the delays, it still sounds more professional because you come across as someone who handles the work independently.

If you want to prove yourself, prove yourself to be reliable, not erratic and prone to failure.

  • 2
    @flux: Don't take this the wrong way but your comment is rambling. I cannot follow your explanation because you barely break it up into sentences and it's just "and then ... and then ...". This is the underlying issue, you're saturating your interactions with so much information that it becomes impossible to focus on the important parts. Instead of blasting someone with every single thing you know, condense it into the information that is relevant, in this case (presumably) "The deadline conflicts with the amount of effort required to deliver this task".
    – Flater
    Jul 7, 2020 at 10:56
  • 2
    @flux: Just to be clear, I'm not trying to criticize your comment for no reason. I'm trying to point out that you're adding a lot of information because you want to be helpful but it's causing your downfall. At work, it's leading you to make promises that you cannot deliver on (nor should you have, you just shouldn't have promised it to begin with) and in this question, you're overloading your question with details that don't matter. It's the same princple at play: you need to condense the information you convey and filter out the irrelevant bits.
    – Flater
    Jul 7, 2020 at 10:59
  • yea when I am stressed my emotions r everywhere. Latest: The manager reverted back an gave me time to get my stuff (no he didn't share time). But how do I proceed ? I think it was after he divided work into team bt they couldn't handle it so I am one man. Should I ask him what is new deadline or thank him for getting pressure off me? don't want that tomorrow he say I bought u one day but ur late again
    – user110973
    Jul 7, 2020 at 16:24
  • @flux: You seem to assume that there is or should be a hard deadline. Since you didn't get one, it's fair to assume that your manager is giving you the time to finish the work properly without cutting corners to reach an arbitrary deadline. Do the work, notify the manager of important delays, and keep them up to date on significant milestones (but don't saturate the conversation with tidbits).
    – Flater
    Jul 7, 2020 at 16:26

How can I talk to my manager as he must have told his senior of demoing/showcase

ASAP use the most urgent channel of communication you have between you and your boss (chat?) and tell him that you will not meet the deadline.

It's important that you give estimates that are as accurate as possible and that you keep your manager in the loop on any delays that will impact a deadline.

The first thing your manager is going to ask you is WHEN can you finish what you promised. If the answer is you don't know then be honest and say that. It's better than saying 1 day or 2 days and having nothing to show at the end.

Your manager trusted you to do something you said you can do. If you really can't do it you need to let them know so they can pass it to someone else or maybe they will have suggestions to help you.

Management is interested in solutions not excuses. And by excuses I mean things that were in your control that you dropped the ball on not things like the company server going down. It's always better to give bad news followed immediately by how you're going to fix things than just giving bad news.

Lastly, before accepting/starting on a project you aren't confident about, you can also talk to more senior people and get their feedback/opinions on how to approach a it. A 10 minute conversation with someone who is 1-2 levels above you is going to save you weeks/months of trouble.

  • Manager won't take it. he need a magic bullet this morning. asking me to work with junior to get it done.
    – user110973
    Jul 7, 2020 at 8:19

Your immediate priorities should be to tell your manager by the most urgent available channel, and then get some sleep. If you have a reasonably confident projection on when the project will be complete include that, but it is better to say that you need to review the situation the next day than to make a bad prediction.

It should very rarely be a surprise to a manager when a deadline is missed. That should only happen if there is a sudden and atypical problem shortly before the deadline, such as a normally reliable server is unavailable for several hours.

Begin warning as soon as you know the deadline is in danger. If making it is going to depend on extreme work hours discuss that. Be very wary of working extreme hours. What you gain in hours worked you lose in mistakes and lack of judgement. Managers are in the business of adjusting plans as circumstances change, but they need accurate information.


I do not have enough time to do/test and deploy It which I told my manager I will do.

You've made a very bad mistake and, instead of admitting the real problem, you've doubled down on your mistake.

The only solution is to come clean and explain the position to your manager. The sooner you do this the better it will go (but you've left it fairly late!).

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