I am in condition that I and my colleague have some deadline.

When I asked him which task he wanted to do (task A or B), he answered he wanted to do task B. Task A is on deadline two days from today and it need some days to finish.

Then in the midst of I am doing task A, he suddenly showed me he was on doing task A, so I switched our task. Up to this position, I was doing task B and he was doing task A.

Two days ago, my manager said to me (my colleague wasn't there) that the deadline of task A will be 3 days from today. Then, on afternoon, my colleague, suddenly (again) he sent me email. Following are the important points:

  • He confused on doing task A
  • He said if there are something lacks on it, it's up to me to modify
  • If there are things in task A that may can be considered impossible to be done in future, he said it's up to me to change whole task.

At this point, he really fed me up since I have trusted him to do task A (in his own initiative anyway), but he sent me that email and that deadline is 3 days from today (since 2 days ago upto today I couldn't do task A because I am on deadline of task B).

How to react to this situation? Should I tell my manager about this condition? Is it ethical in work life?

  • Who is assigning your tasks and checking your deadlines? It seems your manager came in, dropped two tasks on the floor and expects them to be done by the deadline. That's not "managing". Dropping of tasks is more like task-logistics. – nvoigt Sep 6 '15 at 15:55

I think this is not the time to worry about being ethical. If I understand this right (and I might not, because your story is a bit confusing), your coworker is either by incompetence or by stupidity messing up the deadline, and now he is trying to blame it all on you and claiming to your boss that it is your fault, again either because of incompetence or because of malice.

It's time to go to your boss, well prepared with a list of all the events as they have happened, and explain to him what exactly has happened and how you might save the deadline despite of the incompetence of your coworker. You have to make very clear that what happened so far is the fault of your coworker, who should have done B, then did A instead, then was given the task A officially, then didn't finish it and now claims it is your fault. If you can save the day even though it is not your fault, that just makes it better.

Your coworker is trying to throw you under the boss. Ethics goes right out of the window. What counts is making sure that he doesn't damage your reputation.


I get things are bad but I would not work on A until the situation is clarified with your boss. If there are things that were confusing on A then the time for your colleague to bring that up was when the task was assigned. Sounds like even if you did try to cover for your colleague you cannot get the task out in time. If you try and fail the failure may be associated with you. Distance yourself from A until roles and responsibilities are clarified.

Tell your boss:
Task A is at risk and that is a task your college is working on. I am working on task B. I suggest we get together and figure out a game plan. Maybe even include his email as an attachment.

I would email the boss and cc college.

I would not even go over that A versus B switch. Make the meeting about how to fix this. Let your college bury himself.

Your boss is also at fault here if he has not been asking for updates. In the future if he does not assign specific tasks then when you split them up send your boss an email outlining who is working on what.

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