There is a task we have to do at work that a couple of coworkers and I take turns on. One day one of my coworkers forgot to do said task, and my manager emailed me to ask why it wasn't done.

My reply was that "Blake" was supposed to do it today, not me – even though the boss didn't ask who was supposed to do the task, just why it wasn't done, but he sounded like he was insinuating that I responsible for not doing it.

Am I throwing people under the bus? Also, "Blake" seems angry at me and won't interact with me, and I'm sure my manager was not happy with him.


2 Answers 2


Stealing DJClayworth's comment below, because it's an excellent summary:

  • "Did I throw someone under the bus?" No.
  • "Did I fail to pull them out of the path of the bus when I could have?" Yes.

As described you were a bit rude about it -- you pointed the blame directly at the other person rather than saying "oops, you're right, I thought Harry was covering that, we'll get right on it".

Note the difference between "it's all his fault and I did nothing to cause the problem" and "yeah, he slipped but I could have been a bit more aware and reminded him or offered to help." Managers will be a lot happier with the pro-active attitude expressed in the second; your co-workers will be a lot happier since you aren't bluntly tearing them down.

If you want people to work with you as teammates, you need to behave like you're part of a team.

There are times to back away and let someone take the trouble they've gotten themselves into... but not when you can rescue them easily at little cost to yourself.

Don't blame. Fix. You'd want your co-workers to do that for you, right?

  • 12
    I might summarize this as "Did I throw someone under the bus?" No. "Did I fail to pull them out of the path of the bus when I could have done?" Yes. Aug 27, 2023 at 0:37

Sort of.

I mean, let's start from the basics - if you have an agreed schedule of alternating and your co-worker doesn't do the task, then it's not entirely wrong to do what you did.


There were ways of handling it where your Co-Worker doesn't get in the metaphorical. And this is where your Co-Worker is probably annoyed.

In addition, if it was an Informal agreement between you two to alternate, rather than a formally agreed Business roster, then your response would further be viewed badly.

The difference being that if there is a Roster from the business and someone fails to do their part of the Roster - that is 100% on them. If a task is delegated to a team and it's not done then it's the Team's fault, not the individuals fault. You could have handled it better, doing the task, covering for your team mate in front of your boss and then privately asking what the reason was that it wasn't done.

They could have had a legitimate reason why they didn't do it, they maybe ought to have reached out to ask if you could cover, or perhaps they thought you would know that they had a reason why they couldn't do it and expected you to Cover.

I think the way forward to you is to reach out to your co-worker and say words to the effect of 'On reflection, I've realised that I could have handled that better' and hope your co-worker accepts your apology.

  • 1
    there was definitly a formal agreement, I'm just trying to figure out how to not blame him but also take the blame off of me.
    – Bigbob23
    Aug 26, 2023 at 3:03
  • Perhaps you could have said "It wasn't my turn" Aug 26, 2023 at 3:34
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    @Bigbob23 - I think "take the blame off of me" is where things went wrong. What blame? Your manager asked why things hadn't been done. There are two approaches : take responsibility for your department's work (find out why things weren't done) or avoid responsibility for your department's work. The first approach plays a lot better than the second, with both management and colleagues. Aug 26, 2023 at 11:13
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    @ItWasLikeThatWhenIGotHere: Exactly. Focus on the job first, not avoiding blame first. Show initiative to make things work, not unwillingness to go outside of your direct assignment. Never mind supporting your co-workers, support the business. If you just say "Fred dropped it", the manager's question is going to be "and why didn't you help catch it?" This can and should be a positive-sum game.
    – keshlam
    Aug 26, 2023 at 15:13
  • @keshlam and would have had a response alond the lines of "You dont pay me enough to do my job and his", employees dont need to do anything out of our direct assignment, thats why it exists in the first place, and its definitly possible to take responsability for your department and still point the blame to the right person, while fixing the problem yourself.
    – Or4ng3h4t
    Sep 7, 2023 at 9:39

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