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So I work for a small software company, where there are about 8-10 "programmers" ...as they call us.

This company started in the 80s, thus a rift has developed and there is this "Old Guard" and "New Guard." The Old Guard was basically composed of 4-5/10 developers, who are still needed due to crucial legacy code (think COBOL) that is slowly being replaced by the New Guard guys (think Java).

Anyways, I started working there as a junior developer, straight outta college about 3-4 years ago, and naturally I ended up in the New Guard..(not that I like this sort of division.)

The youngest of the Old Guard developers (let's call him Eric, he's 10+ years my senior) and I became good friends and co-workers. About a year ago however, Eric confesses to me that he, after 10 years of being complacent with COBOL, is overwhelmed now with having to learn Java and, you know, like modern software development practices, like using version control, etc (Not kidding). Eric confided that he, mentally, has already "checked out" of development about 6-12 months ago, and is looking elsewhere. However, the VP (a previous Old Guard, who now had the role of manager/VP), decided to promote Eric to an official "Developer Team Manager" role, and delegated a lot of his manager duties to him, along with a raise. So now Eric is my boss, and has been for almost a year.

Recently, due to a late response from a Product Manager regarding a release date for certain feature I coded, I was not able to submit my pull request in time for it to be released during the normal release schedule. So under pressure from this PM, Eric messages me to make it a "fire call" and submit a hotfix to the guys in charge of release deployments, let's call them "Tom and Jerry." After messaging Eric back asking to please verify with Tom and Jerry about this, (that a hotfix is what they prefer for this release, since it's not a critical bug), I submit my hotfix PR, which triggers an automatic email to both Tom and Jerry.

However, the code did not get released. Apparently, Tom and Jerry, ignored/never saw the automatic "Pending HOTFIX" notification email, since they are used to just "checking those auto emails, a few days prior to the normally scheduled release date."

So now Eric accused me of "not communicating" with Tom and Jerry and not "owning the code" and not coordinating the release. However (1) he never asked me to coordinate the release (and IMO that's his job!) nor (2) do I have control over releases, or authority over Tom and Jerry to command them to do a unscheduled hotfix release. He phoned me to accuse me, and to tell me that he was going to send out a public email about the incident to prevent it in the future, since now a client is upset we did not keep the release date.

However, I stuck to my points above, and also pointed out that we have no formal protocol for a "fire call" or unscheduled release like this, thus he can't blame me for not following "proper procedures" when there aren't any defined, especially when I followed his orders to the letter. Also, Tom and Jerry told me that the fault lies with Eric for not coordinating with them in advance.

What should I do here? Should I go to Eric's boss (the VP) and inform him of my view of things, if he publicly blames me for his lack of follow-thru? If he doesn't send the public email, should I still privately email the VP?

closed as off-topic by Alec, Masked Man, Jim G., ChrisF, IDrinkandIKnowThings Aug 26 '15 at 16:00

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave these specific reasons:

  • "Real questions have answers. Rather than explaining why your situation is terrible, or why your boss/coworker makes you unhappy, explain what you want to do to make it better. For more information, click here." – Masked Man, IDrinkandIKnowThings
  • "Questions asking for advice on what to do are not practical answerable questions (e.g. "what job should I take?", or "what skills should I learn?"). Questions should get answers explaining why and how to make a decision, not advice on what to do. For more information, click here." – Alec, Jim G., ChrisF
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    You made incorrect assumptions. You should admit this and use it as a learning opportunity. When someone asks you to do something like this, always confirm that you are on the same page with whoever is asking you to do it. – Eric Aug 22 '15 at 13:32
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    Based on your own description of the events it sounds like he asked you to make it happen, so if you didn't do a follow-up with Tom and Jerry, that is your own fault. The problem you face is now a client is upset, and you were given the task, to make the patch happen. – Donald Aug 22 '15 at 16:37
  • So apparently, in the entire episode, you were flawless and everyone else (Product Manager, Eric, Tom & Jerry) were the culprits. Well then, you are too perfect to work there, and you should find another job where such mediocre people won't cause you any nuisance. – Masked Man Aug 22 '15 at 19:14
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    @cunninglinguist With your attitude, you are placing control over your success or failure in your manager's hands. If you are proactive in following up, then you can avoid situations like those you are in now because you are playing an active role in your success. – Eric Aug 23 '15 at 19:36
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    @cunninglinguist - All that doesn't matter. You were asked to make it happen and it failed to happen. Your manager doesn't care how it happens, and now because it didn't happen, a client isn't happy. Your manager gets to place the blame on you because it didn't get done. So now you know, cover your own butt, in the future. – Donald Aug 23 '15 at 20:05
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I get you are getting beat up on this but I agree with you

Still don't go the VP

You were told to submit hot patch and you did. You stated you don't even have the authority to approve a hot patch. You asked your boss to check with release.

You are a programmer - coordinating a release is not your job nor your authority. It is designed that way so an individual person cannot push out code.

Coordinating an unscheduled hotfix release is your boss's job. He can blame you all he wants (and you just plain have to suck it up and let him blame you) but the problem starts with him. You don't have the authority to approve an unscheduled hotfix release and there is no "fire call" protocol. Release said the heads up should have come from your boss. At a minimum your boss should have sent a message to release:

Release, you should be receiving an unscheduled hotfix from X. I approve it and it needs to be in this release. If you do not receive a hotfix from X contact me directly.

Yes you could have done more but it is your boss that had responsibility to deliver a priority fix for a customer that you did not even have authority to push out. He did zero heads up to release and zero follow up. You can point the blame a lot of directions but the blame starts with your boss.

Muiltiple down votes. Come on. Accept the post as stated and the order was "submit a hotfix to the guys in charge of release deployments". You have a release process or not. If the process is not sufficient that is a management problem. If a tech can bypass the process that is BIG problem. So let's just open stuff up to a single disgruntled tech can push out damaging software? Most contracts protect/limit from negligent damages but there is no protection from intentional damages (even if you put that in the contact). Even if you infer the manager really said "make it happen" that is not just lazy that is reckless. That is introducing an environment with single point of failure with very high damages. You can keep voting it down but you don't understand the risk profile here.

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    I didn't downvote you, but I've worked in a pretty rigorous release environment, and for a critical release, you don't just assume everything is going to go as planned. It's essential to touch base with the deployment team. You might consider that paranoia but I've yet to meet a senior developer that doesn't have a touch of paranoia (probably from incidents like this). – Chan-Ho Suh Aug 23 '15 at 23:43
  • Well apparently any answer that attributes some fault to the manager and not the dev is getting downvoted... I wonder why...? – cunninglinguist Aug 24 '15 at 0:15
  • @cunninglinguist Managers? – paparazzo Aug 24 '15 at 1:05
  • @cunninglinguist: Your manager's job is to coordinate your stuff, and he failed on that, so it's his fault. But while your behavior would have been perfectly fine in a perfectly well-coordinated world, we don't live in that world. So your manager is also right to be upset with you for not putting in the little bit of common sense necessary to compensate for the fact that we don't live in an ideal world. It's not like this has to be only the fault of 1 person!. – Mehrdad Aug 20 '16 at 8:20
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However, the code did not get released. Apparently, Tom and Jerry, ignored/never saw the automatic "Pending HOTFIX" notification email, since they are used to just "checking those auto emails, a few days prior to the normally scheduled release date."

If you have something this urgent you do NOT just send an auto-generated email and hope it resolves itself. Even in good circumstances, with reasonably defined processes, you should still touch base (or have some sort of process to acknowledge the request is being handled) with them nearly immediately afterwards.

Basically: if you have a high priority issue that you report, you need to have followup. Don't just fire an automated pull request and then assume it'll be handled, unless that is a clearly defined procedure (which you clearly don't have).

However, I stuck to my points above, and also pointed out that we have no formal protocol for a "fire call" or unscheduled release like this, thus he can't blame me for not following "proper procedures" when there aren't any defined, especially when I followed his orders to the letter.

This comes across as obstinate and stubborn. You have to accept that you will work with difficult people, people who don't/can't follow processes, etc.

Given your question on money.SE it looks like you are an American. Most American managers expect their employees to take responsibility/initiative, especially in situations like this. Waiting for your manager to followthrough on your tasks is a problem.

Also, Tom and Jerry told me that the fault lies with Eric for not coordinating with them in advance.

A point of clarification: the initial problem and fault may be with Eric. But the "I'm submitting an urgent request to you to immediately add in" lack of followthrough from you makes that piece of it your fault.

Did you email Eric saying, "I submitted a pull request, can you work with Tom/Jerry to get it added to the release?" How was Eric supposed to know there even was a problem?

What should I do here? Should I go to Eric's boss (the VP) and inform him of my view of things, if he publicly blames me for his lack of follow-thru? If he doesn't send the public email, should I still privately email the VP?

No one benefits from blame games. If Eric is remotely competent he will approach this from the perspective of, "we realized as a team our process needed refinement for last-minute updates to our delivery process as we missed a date to a client for stupid reasons."

But it's not your job to coach Eric on how to manage. Your and Eric's combined mistakes made Eric look like a fool to everyone involved, including his boss and your client.

Sending a private email to the VP about how your boss screwed up when you have a fair bit of the blame too is... not a good career move.

Also, I will add, at this point you are likely stuck, since Eric is an "old-guard" which means his influence is probably greater. It's unfortunate, but your role here probably means you will get blamed for this.

As far as what you should do? Maybe you could apologize to Eric about not letting him know when you submitted the hot fix...

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    I could not agree with this answer more. – Donald Aug 22 '15 at 16:39
  • Maybe you could apologize to Eric about not letting him know when you submitted the hot fix I think you did not read my post correctly. I let Eric know the second I had completed what he asked of me (create the hotifix). He knew the hotfix was out there for the release guys, Tom and Jerry, Eric even thanked me for my quick response. But then later did not coordinate the release with Tom and Jerry. – cunninglinguist Aug 24 '15 at 0:11
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    @cunninglinguist and did you followup with them? Everything you say here says to me, "we had no process, at all, but I did my part and so it's not my fault!" the reality is there were a lot of things you could have done to make this situation better and did not do them.... somewhere a manager is writing a post, "my team member didn't communicate to me what needed to happen for a critical out-of-process fix, even though he knew exactly what was required, and we let a client down as a result. Now he's blaming me" – enderland Aug 24 '15 at 1:00
  • @enderland My manager knows exactly what needed to happen for a release to take place. He used to be a developer himself. What's more, he has deployed releases in the past, bypassing Tom & Jerry, as he has the authority/access to do them, yet he didn't. Yes, I could have contacted Tom and Jerry as a failsafe against my manager not coordinating it. Again, I also have no authority over Tom and Jerry so me sending them orders via email (which should come from Eric) doesn't put me in their good graces. Had I done it, the reply would have been "Eric needs to approve it." – cunninglinguist Aug 24 '15 at 2:29
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If your boss accuses you of not communicating with another team, and you did not, in fact, communicate with that team, then I seriously doubt you're going to achieve anything except making yourself look bad by trying to jump over his head and blame him for the lack of communication.

Especially since you seem to be saying that your boss and the VP you're thinking of escalating to are both part of the same "Old Guard" faction within the company.

Playing the game of office politics is like playing the Game of Thrones - you win, or you die. Unless you are extremely confident that the VP will support your assault on Eric, you'd be well served by keeping your head down, and eating the crap sandwich if it is served to you.

Then, next time, try to be more proactive and make sure that things go smoothly. You'll look a lot better saving the company from the consequences of your boss mishandling something, than blaming him after those consequences have been suffered.

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If Eric is the development manager, then his job was to (a) tell you what to do, and (b) make sure that it happens. If your description is correct, then he didn't tell you the correct steps that would have led to success, and he didn't make sure that steps leading to success had happened. An essential step on the way to success would have been to verify that Tom and Jerry started and finished their job (which they never did through no fault of their own since they were not aware of that job).

That's the job of the manager, to make sure things happen and to take the blame if they don't. Now it may be that it is your fault as well, but that shouldn't detract from the fact that Eric failed completely and needs to take responsibility for his failure.

(As an example, if Eric had just phoned Tom and Jerry ahead telling them to expect a release from you and handle that with highest priority, that would have most likely led to success).

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    This doesn't seem to answer the question – Carson63000 Aug 22 '15 at 22:12

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