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I was recently accused in a workplace incident where a major deliverable was delayed. During the planning sessions, one person stepped forward as a self-appointed leader; they dominated the planning meetings speaking more than 70% of the time, and this person appointed senior members in the planning who mostly agree with their point of view. During planning, they speculated wildly about what to do and implications, without ever settling on direction and action and delegating responsibility to other teammates.

I gave this person direct feedback that I didn't think this strategy was productive. But no change was registered. I then checked with this person and other team members about what I needed to do - in simplest terms possible. I confirmed that my scope and timelines were actually pretty small and, although I didn't agree, I planned to start and deliver my portion according to the due date. I also planned vacation afterward.

Two days before my portion was due, this person called an urgent huddle with several high level people including my direct manager, senior director, and even a VP level and complained that I was getting my work started late. I defended myself at the time, basically reiterating my stance that "this is what was asked of me, and by this time, and I expect to achieve that." Nevertheless, this leader chose to delay delivery, and I received several negative feedback from my manager and from others. I called in to several meetings during my vacation to try and straighten things out, and ultimately, we didn't change much of my initial scope but I am deeply unsettled, I feel my team lacks faith in me, and I am deeply disappointed with the project leader.

What are the potential harms of just letting things slide, not addressing it directly with my manager and trying to pick up from here? If that's not a good strategy, what else should I do?

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    Isn't the answer obvious? If you are considered unresponsive, and react by being less responsive, kiss the job goodbye. You need to either find a way to meet requirements here or find requirements that you can meet and will be rewarded for meeting
    – keshlam
    Feb 5 at 18:39
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    I always try to get things off my desk as quickly as possible. Let someone else hang on to the hot potato. Feb 5 at 18:54
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    Was your work required for someone else to perform their work?
    – Peter M
    Feb 5 at 19:30
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    It's unclear from your description why the leader chose to delay delivery, two days before your work was due. Was it clear to everyone else that your work was still going to be delivered according to the plan? Feb 5 at 19:41
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    To be clear you hadn't started on your required bit until 2 days before it was due? After having known it was due for how long? What were you doing in the meantime?
    – Questor
    Feb 5 at 22:21

1 Answer 1

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I just reread the question and I still think my answer is important to hear, but I realized I didn't really answer the question you asked. My bad. I definitely would not "let this slide", it sounds like there was a major miscommunication between you and your managers. Why were they unaware with your issues about and workload relevant to this project? If they were aware, why didn't they take your side in the emergency meeting? You need to come to an understanding with your manager about what went wrong, what you need to do differently/better next time, and how you guys can be on the same page in the future.


I'm confused about this chain of events - it sounds like there are details that have been left out, either intentionally or because you're unaware of them. I'm not one to accuse someone of lying in their questions on this site, so lets assume the second one. The way you listed things, someone (we'll call them PL for Project Leader) took charge of a project, set out chaotic goals and deadlines, and then called a high-level meeting right before the deadlines - or at least your deadlines - and made you the scapegoat for unfinished work even though you were on track to finish what had been agreed upon. So far, sure it's believable that someone would do that. However, you claim that

  1. the senior members of this project agreed with PL the whole time,
  2. the last-minute huddle included not only your direct manager and their direct manager but also incredibly high value employees like a VP, and
  3. all of these people somehow agree with this "chaotic" PL, are unsatisfied with the work you did, and don't realize that PL threw you under the bus - even though from your point of view that was incredibly obvious.

Do you see why this starts to emerge as unlikely that you did everything right and are being unfairly judged? Unless there is some kind of crazy office politics going on where everyone is ignoring PL's mistakes, this just does not add up. I think you need to take a step back and examine your performance objectively.

It sounds to me like it's possible that you either didn't agree with PL's management style, the goals that PL set out for the project, and/or the fact that PL jumped up and took control of this project. Because of this, you were unhappy with the project and so you took ownership of a small slice of the work needed, ensuring that technically your responsibilities were as simple as possible. When it got close to the deadline, PL realized that your part was too toned-down or that you had ignored obvious part of the project that should have gone along with it, and called an emergency meeting to fix that.

Now obviously this is pure speculation. I'm not saying this is what happened - I put this version forth based on some of the language you used and the way you described the project, as well as my own personal experience. It would be helpful to know what exactly the negative feedback that you got from your manager was, since it sounds like that would have already told you what they think you did wrong. The point of my answer really is that it sounds like you had personal problems with this project and tried to put in the bare minimum effort for it, which is now biting you on the ass. I think you need to reset and be honest with yourself about this situation before you dismiss that out of hand and continue insisting you're the victim.

Now, if you come to the conclusion that the events you laid out are exactly what happened, and your managers can't tell you more about what you should have done differently or why they're unhappy with you: leave. It doesn't sound like a workplace you have much a future at, or would really want to stay at.

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    I'm siding with this answer, in part because the question very questionably sidesteps the whole "I waited to start on this until 2 days before the due date" point, then leading into "it was delayed before I had even finished", which only when asked for elaboration then leads into the information that there was supposed to be a whole review cycle before the deadline. The phrasing very much implies that OP started on this later than they could have, plus backseat critiquing the leaders, plus an overwhelming power imbalance between the pro and con camps w.r.t. the approach; it's not adding up.
    – Flater
    Feb 7 at 0:42
  • @Flater It's true that a review cycle was never considered until the last moment. My pride was clearly dashed on the experience - so unreliable narrator. If anything the missing component is that appointed PL was not the nominal PL - and after fall out (and advice to address the negative perceptions against me) - the nominal PL has somewhat caught the fall of this. Nevertheless, it can't be denied that I knew something was wrong and I failed to speak out loudly, quickly, (and externally) enough, so it was only a matter of time before someone else did the same against me.
    – AdamO
    Feb 9 at 17:07
  • @AdamO: (1) Did you start working on this later than when you could have started working on it? (2) When did you make it clear that you would do so? (3) When did you receive pushback about your proposed timeline for the work being done?
    – Flater
    Feb 11 at 9:23
  • @AdamO More poignantly, your comment here is a masterpiece on admitting some inconsequential faults but no guilt and putting the blame on the vague "others" and machinations that no one could reasonably have foreseen. If I wasn't convinced before, I would be now that you are attempting to dodge some blame that should be yours to bear. You don't even have to counter me here, it doesn't matter. At the end of the day there's no value in asking a question that would be based on a fictitious context, as it invalidates the value from the answers you get. I suggest direct honesty is best.
    – Flater
    Feb 11 at 9:27

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