I've worked on plenty of collaborative projects, and they typically end well. We share the work, we talk over what to present to our manager, we share findings.

Recently I've been assigned to a project with someone new. He is eager and enthusiastic. We worked several hours on a thorough outline for the project, which we were to present to our manager the next day.

The hour of the meeting, I go in, and it turns out Coworker has changed almost everything on the slides. He also loudly goes over the presentation, not allowing me the chance to cut in or explain (if it matters, I am more soft-spoken in comparison, but have given plenty of successful presentations in the past).

Coworker also goes over all the "research" he's done prior to the meeting, none of which he has shared with me. He makes bold proclamations, like "I found a way to track the data," or "I put together the notes for..." In past group projects, it was a mutual understanding that group members always used "we" instead of "I" as a collaborative effort. When the manager asks if we have additional questions, Coworker cuts in confidently with "Nope!" and a charismatic smile, so I feel hesitant to speak up.

But the kicker is, when I ask Coworker afterward about all the "research" he did, such as where to find data sources, he says he doesn't know, but read a sentence about it somewhere in an obscure source.

So now our impressed manager thinks we have everything we need to proceed, even though we are still at step 0 in terms of data sources and everything. Is it professional to bring this up with my manager? I would essentially be throwing my Coworker under the bus, but he has also thrown me under by taking the reins of this project behind my back.

  • 1
    Sounds like he wasted yours, his, and your manager's time.
    – rath
    Aug 16, 2017 at 15:58

2 Answers 2


You should bring this up with your co-worker first.

Layout for him what you just did for us. Tell him that your boss now thinks you are ready to go and that really you can't even begin. Your boss will probably have an unrealistic expectation of both timelines and quality. If you don't even have data sources, there is a chance everything could change.

Whether he agrees with you or not, I think you should both go to the manager and talk about this. If you both agree, then the conversation should be easy and your co-worker should do most of the talking and hopefully explain that the information he changed is inaccurate and explain the current state and proper expectations.

If you both disagree as in this co-worker still thinks everything is great and doesn't see an issue, you should both go to talk with your manager together and explain each of your points of view on the issue. Then, let the manager decide what he/she thinks is valid. Then you aren't throwing someone under the bus, you are just concerned about the project (which is not a bad thing).


The general rule of escalating is: start with trying to solve the problem with the person involved, and if it appears there's nothing you can do, then escalate to your manager.

From what you've written, it doesn't seem like you actually tried to discuss the issue with your coworker. Maybe he doesn't know he's doing things the wrong way. You describe him as new, eager and enthusiastic, which leads me to believe he's young and unexperienced. Maybe he's putting extra effort into making things look good because that's what he's learned to do, or even because that's what got him through school. He seems to be really good at it, so that wouldn't be all that surprising. The point is, he might just be oblivious.

Try to introduce the matter in a casual conversation for starters, maybe suggest that you could take turns during presentations. Try to be an example: when you want to change a slide, ask him if he's OK with it, maybe he genuinely believes his modifications are good and you're going to be impressed with his initiatives; the fact that you're not complaining might comfort him into this idea. Being too eager is a thing, and if he's actually not realizing that his behaviour is problematic, it's also your role as an experienced team member to guide him.

If you can't seem to make him realize casually, you might need a formal one-on-one discussion. There's still no need to be hard on him, you can just say that you would appreciate if he asked your opinion before modifying your work, remind him gently that there's no "I" in team, and simply point that you'll be both winners if you show that you can work together efficiently.

If none of those work, then you can think of escalating. You can tell your manager you struggle to cooperate with the guy, and that you struggle to bring your experience on the table, which makes both of you less efficient. The best way to ensure your manager will care is to imply that you could be more efficient if the issue was handled, and that you couldn't handle it by yourself. Just make sure he understands what the problem is, and doesn't end up thinking you're just trying to slow your coworker down.

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