After reading Dealing with a manager who won't let go of being a developer, I was intrigued to ask a question that more or less might be a result of that one.

Some time ago, I was tasked with a specific enhancement on a mobile app we are developing. I had to do both parts server-wise and client-wise and since no guidelines or mockups were given, I had to come up with a solution myself.

I'd given it some thought and started working on the solution. When the main functionality was ready, I went over to the manager to show him the progress and discuss it in general. The solution was "not good" since it did not use part of the legacy code that was already implemented in the server.

After talking it though while he insisted on doing it his way, I backed off and changed the code following his guidelines.

The enhancement was released to the clients and everyone was satisfied.

Then the deal breaker happened. Two clients reported their databases broken.

A restoration process started and I was called in his office with 2 other colleagues, the reviewer of my code and the QA guy that tested it (the QA does blackbox testing here), where he asked for an explanation. I spotted the issue almost immediately and told him.

What got me stunned was that I was to blame!

Even after he insisted on doing it his way, it was still my fault since "I did not convince him his way was wrong!". He started whining that if we were in a different company we would be both fired and giving me stories of other companies that only the employee was fired. He characterized me as stubborn, which he had already done quite a few times but all of them privately, so I had let them go.

After the incident, I ended up changing the code again, reverting to the solution that I implemented while working on the prototype.

The whole situation got me thinking. Was it really my fault?

TL;DR I was tasked with an enhancement. I built it way A. I was told to fix it by doing it way B (manager's way). Way B turns out to be faulty and the fix was doing it way A again. Manager accuses me since "I did not convince him his way was wrong!". Was I to blame?

  • 1
    This an unpleasant situation, but your question is likely to be put on hold unless you edit it to ask a specific question about what to do in response. For example, you might say "should I approach this manager privately and say he spoke of me unfairly? Or should I speak to his manager? The point is to be specific..
    – O. Jones
    Sep 3, 2014 at 12:01
  • As far as I understand, neither of them wrote the faulty code - it was legacy. So it's neither one's fault. Blame the writer of the legacy code!
    – Alexander
    Sep 3, 2014 at 12:12
  • @JoeStrazzere there is no unit testing in our company...
    – ikromm
    Sep 3, 2014 at 12:27
  • @Alexander I wrote the code. Though with his guidance. He insisted on using the existing legacy code.
    – ikromm
    Sep 3, 2014 at 12:28
  • 2
    @JohnKrommidas: I'm just going to throw out that yes, you do bear at least some of the responsibility. Part of being a professional coder is the bit where you understand enough to see why a particular way isn't going to work. That is a big part of what you are hired to do: analyze potential solutions while being able to identify and report where the faults are. The fact that you spotted the problem almost immediately implies that you should have been able to spot it before it went to production.
    – NotMe
    Sep 4, 2014 at 1:11

2 Answers 2


welcome to the real world. Happens all the time.
Expect to get blamed for missing deadlines you warned were impossible before the project started.
Expect to get blamed for architecture flaws imposed on you by others despite your warnings that you submitted in writing to management.
Expect to get blamed for bugs that existed in the code before you even started working with the company.
Expect to be blamed for hardware failures of the hardware running the software you're maintaining. (yes, I've had that happen too. Someone trips over a power cable, computer fails, and they blame our software for the computer turning off, our management blame the developers initially until we figure out what really happened).
It happens all the time.


I suspect you already know the answer, but you are fishing for confirmation. The manager used his authority to muscle you in doing it his way, and he didn't have the spine to own up to his starring part in the fiasco and admit that he had screwed the pooch.

I have no idea whether you could have known or predicted that the legacy code would have broken the customers' databases, and I suspect that you didn't know or predict because it doesn't look like you were making that argument at the time. It is quite clear that your manager didn't know or predict, and whether he could have known or predicted is a different story. Anyway, the manager's subsequent - I'd say, contemptible - behavior casts a pretty poor light on his decision-making.

I view his accusation that you are stubborn as pathetic: as a professional, I am expected to stand behind my work. I am expected to say my piece and stick to my guns if I believe that I am right. And if I believe that I am right, the only way to override me is through properly applied managerial authority. That's the way the game is supposed to be played and from your narrative, that's the way you played the game. You have nothing to reproach yourself for.

I used strong words to describe your manager's behavior but in this situation, the only adequate words are strong words. We all make mistakes and sometimes, we make pretty bad mistakes. I would have no negative opinion of your manager if he had stepped forward and owned up to making the wrong call. Again, we all make mistakes. We all make decisions that seemed sound at the time and they don't turn out to be so. It's how we act afterwards that's of much more consequence.

  • In my defense, I tend to think twice when serious situations like this one come up, Vietnhi. I always have at the back of my mind that I might be the one who is wrong. So I ask for a third opinion.
    – ikromm
    Sep 3, 2014 at 13:12
  • 1
    @johnKrommidas Nothing wrong with due diligence and sanity checking :) Sep 3, 2014 at 13:15

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .