I'm working on a maintenance / support project. I've been working on it since a long time.

My manager had put in a fellow colleague as a replacement for me after I said I wanted out some 8-9 months ago and I've been busy transferring my responsibilities to him.

Recently, a critical requirement came from the client and it required quick action on our part. I had told him to handle this and take care of what the client was asking. But he kept dragging me into it, involving me in calls and directly addressing me in mails to the client thereby creating a dependency on me. He also kept this thing pending because he needed me to explain what the client wanted since he didn't understand it. I got busy in some other work and this escaped my mind.

Several days later, because of inaction, the client escalated this to my manager and I was criticized because of non response to this even though I wasn't even working on this. He took partial blame because he hadn't responded but most of the blame fell on me since I'm the main support person for this project and had not helped him understand the task.

Wasn't it his fault this whole thing happened? This has greatly upset me. How should I approach this situation?

  • Who are you wanting to approach about it, the client or your manager? – Myles Dec 17 '15 at 18:54
  • Let it go and try to avoid it in the future. Deliver the critical requirement that came from the client. – paparazzo Dec 17 '15 at 18:56
  • @Myles the manager I guess. I wanted to let him know how incapable my replacement is. But reading the answers below, i understand that this was a mistake on my part which I'll try to avoid. – Akhoy Dec 17 '15 at 20:01
  • @Akhoy if you think your replacement is incapable or incompetent, that's a perfectly appropriate thing to bring up with your manager. If you're having to step in over and over to fix things, that's not a long-term solution for anyone. You might want to give it some time first, and document the times your replacement wasn't able to handle a situation. Then you have something concrete to present to your manager. – mcknz Dec 17 '15 at 20:15
  • Yep your fault 100% suck it up, still your primary responsibility so you are primarily responsible. Not the way to earn a reassignment to something better I can tell you that. – user718 Dec 17 '15 at 21:11

Wasn't it his fault this whole thing happened?

You also have responsibility. It is expected by him, you and your manager that you are still supporting this project. Accept responsibility that you could have handled it better, however...

How should I approach this situation?

First, stop focusing on fault - it is not productive. Use this as an opportunity to highlight to your boss the risks associated with your current situation. Talk to your boss to refocus the issue on completing the transition as soon as possible or else you risk another situation like this or worse, not doing well on both projects.

You want to prevent the situation of having two projects/clients both with urgent needs at the same time, and with you being the key dependency for both. While you can accept responsibility this time, getting the conversation focused on completing the transition will prevent the issue from coming up again. It also defuses your concern that this reflects poorly on your performance overall - this incident is the result of the transitional circumstances.

Splitting your time and responsibility like you have is not sustainable forever. If you are asked to do unreasonable things, then they should expect undesirable results. This situation should be used to bring the importance of completing the transition to the attention of you boss.

  • Thanks! I told my manager to hasten the transition. I also highlighted to him the incapability of my replacement like the other answers mentioned. – Akhoy Dec 18 '15 at 8:57

But he kept dragging me into it, involving me in calls and directly addressing me in mails to the client thereby creating a dependency on me.

Wouldn't this imply that the item is on your "to-do" list?

Wasn't it his fault this whole thing happened?

No. You were brought into meetings and thus could be seen as having things to do that you didn't do. While you may not like how things went, you do have some responsibility here.

This has greatly upset me. How should I approach this situation?

How often do you ask your manager about what are your top tasks? How well do you communicate what are the deadlines for things to be done, ready to show, etc.? Those would be where I'd start as while you may want to say, "I wasn't told to do it," that could seem like a childish defence.

I'm 17 years in the industry and still make mistakes. I'm human and accept that from time to time I will mess up. The key is how well do I respond when someone points out something, what changes could I make to prevent that in the future and move forward rather than wallowing that isn't likely to be productive.

  • Hm I guess you're right. This was on my to-do list which I was adamantly trying to deny. The worst part about all of this was that the manager wasn't aware of this until the on-site guy reported it to him and I felt bad when he pointed me out. 3 years in the industry and I'm still making mistakes. thanks for the answer. – Akhoy Dec 17 '15 at 20:06

Until the knowledge transfer to your replacement is complete, you are in part responsible for activities under the project. Since your manager has honored your request to be replaced, you should be going above and beyond to make sure the transition is smooth.

Understand that your manager's overwhelming interest is the client's satisfaction, which should be your goal as well. Sometimes this means taking over when a colleague is incapable.

I would recommend that you chalk this up as a lesson learned, and try your best to keep the client's interest as top priority. Don't let your manager think that you aren't the right person for your new assignment.

  • Thanks for the answer. You are right about the client's satisfaction. I'll surely keep that in mind. The knowledge transfer was already done a long time ago. What irritates me the most is that even though the manager has honoured my request, 5-6 months is still a long time for my coworker to keep depending on me. – Akhoy Dec 17 '15 at 20:12
  • @Akhoy agreed that 5-6 months is a very long time to expect you to cover for your coworker -- see my comment above. – mcknz Dec 17 '15 at 20:17

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