Pretty awkward situation here.

Background : I'm currently managing a project of IT renovation on a fairly big company (+1000 person) in which is common to don't know personally all the people inside it.

I'm in charge to keep on track the KPI, hire devs and IT figures to handle the project milestones, and also to keep the costs as low as possible.

To do that, I have a "connection" with the HR department who is in charge to give me rough data of people who works in my project (for instance the daily pay to have my financial KPI aligned) and other minimal data that are not important in this scenario.

Problem: Last week I compiled the offer for the current sprint in order to send it to the client, and to do that I took the data I had to charge the daily costs of my dev team.

Client accepted the offer and we continued to work.

Yesterday the marketing team contacted me saying my KPI's were not correct and the sprint had not the minimal ROI (not enough money gain) and to handle the situation.

That was shocking, cause the data were the same as the previous 2 weeks, since the team was basically the same.

When I was trying to figure it out , the marketing called me back saying that one of the dev in my team received a pay upgrade from HR, and his daily cost was now higher.

This scenario is common, but honestly was the first time no one in the HR department gave me the information.

Note that this type of communication is something that HR sends TO me , and not something I can ask in the first place, cause I have no evidence of this happening.

Basically someone in the HR department didn't do his job on time.

I wrote to the HR responsible ,with marketing in CC, telling the disguise and that I did not received an email or a communication from him, and to call the marketing to handle the situation.

Note that this communication via mail was very calm, polite and professional, with no anger at all.

5 minutes after the email, I received a call on my PRIVATE cell number, and on the other side there was the HR responsible asking me to handle the situation in another way, because HE sent me the communication and was going to give the proofs of that.

I calmly replied that I did not received any email from him, and if he has that kind of proof, to paste it in the mail thread, to better understand what happened and work a way out of the situation.

He replied to me that I was going under a risky bridge with that approach, and to don't try to blame him in front of marketing, and then closed the call.

I was genuinely stunned by his manners, so I double checked everything in my posses to find some proofs of what he told, but nothing popped out.

After some time, he sent a mail asking me to doesn't bother his time with these accusation , and that he will sent the proof of the email.

Marketing replied him to sent this proof to better understand where the information stopped in the process.

After 1 minute, he called me again (personal number, still don't know how he has that) and told me that I entered in the mail server of the company and deleted the proof of the mail he sent me, to admit it to the marketing and don't bother him more than that. At this point I genuinely lost my mind and told him, not very professionally, gonna admit, that I have no clue on what he was saying and to don't try to accuse me. He replied with something that shocked me

"Anon, if you don't take the fault of that, I'm gonna say that this communication should have been communicated to you by MISS A (which is a new intern) and she will be fired for that"

I was shocked and I did not answered that, and shut down the call.

Note that he has the power of doing that being the head of HR, and that I have a fair reputation inside the company, so for me should be little problem to took the charge for him instead of MISS A that basically is new to the job.

What is the better approach to handle this situation? Taking the shot for HR Head or let the information pass by and demonstrate that he didn't do his job?

I genuinely don't want miss A to lose her job for such a person, but on the other side I have no proof of what he told me and basically can't help MISS A to dodge the bullet.

EDIT: We are in Italy, and the pay rise is roughly 22%.

I know that this is not enough, IN MY OPINION to let someone lose his job, and I don't know why HR did what he did, but that's what happened, I have no vision on why he is doing that.

My personal idea is that he just don't want to admit with Marketing he didn't do properly his job .

  • 4
    Also, how much higher cost are we talking? If one of the devs got a pay raise, lets say 10%, and you have the minimum of 3 devs a SM and a PO, all being roughly equal, that is a margin of error of 2%. Why would anybody be fired over a 2% cost error that was an honest mistake? In other words, why is the Head of HR so worked up over it, did it have other consequences?
    – nvoigt
    Commented Nov 9, 2022 at 10:49
  • Can you clarify if you all work for the same employer and, if not, who works for whom.
    – Hilmar
    Commented Nov 9, 2022 at 12:04
  • I'm assuming that your cell phone has caller-id so you know who is calling you. Immediately STOP answering calls from this person. Communicate by text or email so that you have a "paper trail".
    – brhans
    Commented Nov 9, 2022 at 19:22
  • 3
    This is not going to end here (even if you're able to resolve this immediate situation). Now that you know about his incompetence, expect that this guy tries to sabotage you at every turn, even years from now. If I were you, I would record all my conversations with him. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telephone_call_recording_laws#: And do not throw yourself under the bus to save an intern. Commented Nov 9, 2022 at 19:26
  • 2
    Mamma mia. That's rough. Make sure to keep calm and don't do anything before you figure out a plan.
    – Cris
    Commented Nov 9, 2022 at 21:38

2 Answers 2


This is a tricky and potential dangerous situation.

Step 1: Document, document, document. Keep an exact diary of all interactions with copies of e-mail and date, time & content of phone calls. Write down what was said after every phone call and have it notarized/time-stamped. Pull a call record from your phone company, so that you can proof that you were called on your private line (which is highly unusual in itself)

Step 2: Elevate. Talk to your direct manager (if you have one). Be open and transparent and just tell them everything. If you have access to your own legal or HR department, pull them in as well.

This is a serious legal & business issue now and you will most likely need external help handle this. If you can't get help through your employer, talk to a lawyer

I genuinelly don't want miss A to lose her job for such a person,

That is understandable, but that's mostly outside your control. The person you dealing with behaves highly irrational, emotional, and quite possible illegal. If they are in "Miss A" chain of command, there is little you can do to protect here.

At this point, you need to focus on protecting yourself and the interests of your employer. If you can take down "HR person" in the process, all the better, but that's not your job or primary goal.

  • 9
    Just saying, if the Department boss of "Miss A" readily fires her just to conceal a forgotten e-mail, it may be actually in the interest of Miss A to be fired now, instead of working in that toxic environment and burning out later. Was in a similar situation at the start of my career: Fired from a company, later realized that I really dodged a bullet.
    – jwsc
    Commented Nov 9, 2022 at 13:42
  • 4
    To add to the Step 1 documentation point, personally I would see if it is possible to avoid any further communications on your own private line altogether, since it is harder to keep a record of what was said and it seems they should not have had access to it to begin with to threaten you over a work-related issue. Of course, do make notes of what has happened already, and make backups of all data that may be company property or accessed by the company, e.g. email.
    – gloo
    Commented Nov 9, 2022 at 18:24

This HR person combines incompetence, nastiness and willingness to break the law and act against the interest of their company to a very high degree.

First step is making sure that you are safe. Go to IT. Tell them you have been accused of messing with their email server, and that you want them to give you in writing that this didn’t happen. In the end, the HR person isn’t just accusing you, they are accusing IT of incompetence as well. Next, write down that you received private phone calls from the HR person and what the contents was.

Now the right thing would be to help the company to get rid of this HR person. That’s dangerous and nobody will thank you for it.

The other right thing to do would go to the intern and tell them to contact you if they get into any trouble with HR.

PS. I get that you shouldn’t have a team that is too expensive. But having to change a team because one of them got a raise looks stupid to me.

  • is no problem if someone gets a raise, the raise should have been added on the total cost of the sprint to keep the KPI in the right value
    – Anon
    Commented Nov 13, 2022 at 18:26

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