I don't work with this person directly, and I have never met him face to face as he is at a different location. However, when an issue comes up, he emails me with questions and typically copies his managers on it.

On a previous occasion I was helping him debug a hardware issue, and he was reporting some strange behaviour. I made the suggestion to change part of the setup; this change would have eliminated the error (it eliminates the part that can cause the error). He did not respond for a few days and when I inquired about it, he said the problem remained. When I pointed out that this was not possible, he said he was going on vacation. Then a different engineer came around and my fix was implemented.

Today I got another message that reported strange failures using software that has been tested in same scenario before. He then said that when they program firmware B on it rather than A, there is no problem. But firmware B is the one that should have been used in the first place! At the same time, we just finished testing firmware A and it was proven to be stable.

I don't know if he really has no idea what he is working on, or if he just doesn't care. I am not his manager, and all I can do is complain to my manager about this. Do you have any advice on how to handle this? I feel he just sabotages our projects with his complete incompetence. His manager is on all these email chains and should be aware of what is happening, but it is entire possible that he is too busy and doesn't actually read them.

  • We don't handle calls for advice here. Do you have a specific outcome you're aiming for? And if so, can you edit it into your question? We'll gladly help with those.
    – Erik
    Jul 4, 2017 at 7:00

2 Answers 2


IF he actually does not work with you and IF he actually not on your team, consider replying to his next email like this (let's assume his name is Dave) and CC your manager if his manager has been CCed:

Hi Dave,

This is issue could be cause by a few different things. Unfortunately, I do not have time to look into this issue. Is there someone on your team who could look into this for you?



After you send the email, you could politely talk to your manager about it and tell him the frequency of these emails. Tell him when you are helping Dave, it takes away from your work and ask your manager how they would like you to proceed.


You saw two problems. That doesn't make a person incompetent. That makes him a person that made two mistakes.

The problem with the hardware setup: For all I know, 10 seconds after you sent your suggestion, his manager pulled him off to do some much more important work. A few days later, just before he was going on holiday, you contacted him again. He hadn't touched the hardware because he did more important things, and then went on holiday. People go on holiday sometimes, you know.

The other problem likely has a similar explanation. If you go and throw accusations around calling people incompetent, you will make enemies and/or get yourself into trouble.

  • 1
    while I agree with your premise, this doesn't really answer the question of what to do. Maybe you could add something at the bottom to address that? Jul 4, 2017 at 11:00
  • 2
    No, the reason I call him incompetent in case A is because he said he tried my suggestion and it didn't work. That was a lie. If he did try it, he would not have seen the problem. He appears careless and incompetent.
    – Catsunami
    Jul 4, 2017 at 18:42

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