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Being Thrown Under the Bus at Work

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  • Being Thrown Under the Bus at Work

    Who here has experienced it? I've had little things here and there, been burned a time or two, but currently going through a pretty irritating one

    tl:dr: Manager got questions about time charged to the budget. Blamed me when she did nothing of value on the audit. I had LOTS AND LOTS of documentation and it turned into her getting a lengthy performance eval.

    So, I had a few weeks open between Houston trips, so I got put on an audit with a Manager I've never worked with before. She was effectively worthless and did nothing on the project but insert herself as a bottleneck between myself and the client.

    We were performing a vendor management audit, which is pretty straightforward stuff in our industry, but she seemed to have no idea what she was doing. She, essentially, told me she was busy and tasked me with putting together the audit plan and executing it, oh, and by the way, you get a resource for two weeks at about 20 hours a week, but coordinate with the resource and the other project managers to actually get her time. Mind you, none of this PM time was built in my budget...so, naturally, I eat this time because I don't have the budget for it.

    Throughout the project, it was mayhem, unorganized nonsense. We randomly selected 50 vendors, with spend over $100K, to test the process. With a cursory overview of the support provided by the client, 50% of the selections failed out of the gate. That's without even testing the rest of them. What this means, is, there's no point in moving forward, the process is broken. You'd normally tell the client (which I wasn't allowed to do, cause all communication with the client was required to go through her) and then write up some recommendations and remediate the process and test again after they had a chance to implement.

    At this point, the manager tells me, "we're going to hold off work on the project and assess next steps"...that was the last correspondence I had with her until last Friday evening when I got a calendar invite for a meeting to review my time Monday morning:

    Hey Chuck,

    During the February time review, there were questions I received regarding your time compared to the status of testing and work performed for the Vendor Management Review. I’d like to schedule a call with you so we can talk through, in more detail, the actual hours recorded. As an example - there are 26 hours to Vendor Terms and the Test Plan has excerpts from a *Client* Policy but we still need to complete four of the five steps.

    Naturally, my first response is to freak out...my integrity is being questioned. I'm a contractor/consultant, so, they're basically saying, "you charged the client for work you didn't perform, wtf"

    A couple things:

    1) Manager didn't know that I have a very good rapport with the Senior Manager on the project. I texted her and basically said, "Ummm, what the heck is this? This is the first I had heard of it"
    2) Manager doesn't know (though she should assume) that I document everything. And I'm on adderall.

    As I'm remote, I don't have regular interaction with the Senior, so she had no background on my side of the story, she only knew what the Manager had told her.

    I put together an EXHAUSTIVE email citing probably 20 emails where the project manager had failed and we set up a call for yesterday so she and I could talk before the meeting today. The meeting today got moved to 1:30, so as of typing, I still haven't had it.

    The call with the Senior Manager yesterday went very well, I took accountability where I could (I should have been more proactive about understanding my role, manager's expectations, the budget, etc), but I presented the facts.

    A couple of note:

    1) Over the course of Mid Jan to Late Feb, I had 115 emails from the Manager, alone. I said, at a conservative 5 minutes per email (stopping what I'm doing, reading, thinking, responding, etc) that's 10 hours, and at a more realistic 15 minutes per email, that's 30 hours. Let's have a call and knock these things out at once, rather than emailing non-stop
    2) I ran a budget to actual of my personal hours, at the time we stopped working, I was 33 hours under budget, so, why on earth am I getting questioned about this? The audit had a 50% failure rate! That spawns questions and discussions that take time, so you expect to be over budget in those situations

    Anyway, by the end of my call with the senior yesterday, she asked me if I thought I even needed to be on the call. I told her I was happy to, but I made the email exhaustive so that she'd have whatever she needed for the discussion.

    I cannot stand when lazy people call my integrity into question, and, if she thought I was gonna lay down about it, well, she made the wrong call.

    Regale me with your stories of being thrown under the bus and how you handled it.....
    Last edited by Joe Norris; 03-09-20, 11:41 AM.

  • #2
    You are the contractor which means you will 100% get blamed for when things don’t go right or when you make the existing team look bad. It’s just how it goes. What she didn’t account for is you are a contractor who is on their game and isn’t just going to roll over.

    I have been thrown under the bus before, and it was by my own superior at the time. She was a terrible manager and was so concerned about looking bad to our execs that she would sacrifice anyone on her team to protect herself. I saw her do it to two others before me, and so I had already made the decision that I would be moving on. When my time came I just shook my head and laughed about it and took a much better position elsewhere. I could have “fought it” and thrown it right back on her, but to be honest the entire culture that fostered her thinking was toxic and not one I wanted to be a part of, so I knew I wanted to leave anyways. Didn’t really care what she had to say.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by TheBricklayer View Post
      You are the contractor which means you will 100% get blamed for when things don’t go right or when you make the existing team look bad. It’s just how it goes. What she didn’t account for is you are a contractor who is on their game and isn’t just going to roll over.

      I have been thrown under the bus before, and it was by my own superior at the time. She was a terrible manager and was so concerned about looking bad to our execs that she would sacrifice anyone on her team to protect herself. I saw her do it to two others before me, and so I had already made the decision that I would be moving on. When my time came I just shook my head and laughed about it and took a much better position elsewhere. I could have “fought it” and thrown it right back on her, but to be honest the entire culture that fostered her thinking was toxic and not one I wanted to be a part of, so I knew I wanted to leave anyways. Didn’t really care what she had to say.
      To your first point: you're absolutely right. And the firm I'm contracting for at the moment, I used to be a FTE there (not sure if she knows that), so my reputation there is already solid....evidenced by them taking me back after leaving to move up to KC. Not to mention multiple Senior Managers and Partners asking me to come back full time. Thing is, the work is out there showing that the client process isn't working....she'd know that if she looked, but she didn't....or she did and didn't know how to interpret it....while I was annoyed during the project that there were SO MANY emails going back and forth, I was grateful when I was putting together my "defense" that I had volumes of support on my side....not to mention the basic numbers.

      To your under the bus story: That sucks, but it's great that you were aware of her tendencies and prepared for it. Granted, I don't have a ton of detail on your situation, but when you say you could have "fought it", do you mean you left with the impression she gave management of you? Or did you clear your name and THEN say bye?

      The culture of this firm, in my opinion, is great, I have zero issues with the people I normally work with. There is a mutual respect and good level of communication. I'm extra sensitive to it as well, because I have a great gig and I would be really disappointed to lose it.

      I can't remember if I put it in my OP, but I kinda think that the Manager thought since she scheduled the call after EoD on a Friday with a meeting on Monday, that I wouldn't think much of it and come to the meeting unprepared. Little did she know that I have extreme anxiety and it's all I thought about this weekend. I know my answers and numbers backward and forward, so I really know that I shouldn't be worried....granted, because it's my livelihood, it's obviously something I won't feel better about until after our 1:30 call.

      Just because I know how these things work, I'll have to take my lumps on the phone, but I know I don't have to be defensive or argumentative, because I've presented my piece to the boss with more than sufficient support.

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      • #4
        To your question, no I did not “clear
        my name” there. Mainly because the EVP was toxic as well and there was a reason my boss was the way she was. I basically decided it simply wasn’t worth my time or effort because it’s not where I wanted to be anyways. The people whose opinion I cared about knew what I was capable of essentially knew the truth of things. When a manager has 70% of her direct reports either quit or get fired by her in a two year span, it’s apparent to people that are paying attention where the issue is at.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by TheBricklayer View Post
          To your question, no I did not “clear
          my name” there. Mainly because the EVP was toxic as well and there was a reason my boss was the way she was. I basically decided it simply wasn’t worth my time or effort because it’s not where I wanted to be anyways. The people whose opinion I cared about knew what I was capable of essentially knew the truth of things. When a manager has 70% of her direct reports either quit or get fired by her in a two year span, it’s apparent to people that are paying attention where the issue is at.
          That's fair, and, it's hard to put myself in your mindset not being subject to that.

          I just hate walking away from things without my name being in good standing; however, to your point, your name was in good standing with the people you cared about, so maybe that is where you got your peace of mind

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          • #6
            How did the meeting go today?

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            • #7
              Sorry you got fired, Joe. Thoughts and prayers.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by TheBricklayer View Post
                How did the meeting go today?
                It went really well, could have gone longer, but they had a 2:00 meeting they had to get to. I had an answer for every question without coming off defensive or argumentative and I was also able to bring in the budget to actual discussion which obviously there was no good response for her to have on that one.

                She also questioned where my documentation was in several instances, which, either she didn't know how the test plan worked, or she was willfully ignorant, because it was all available on sharepoint, which I politely pointed her to in the version she had checked out at the time of the meeting.

                I'm sure there will be some follow up "coaching notes", as there always are, but the meeting very much went in my favor

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                • #9
                  Consultants and contractors provide a valuable service. If things go bad, hey Accenture proposed this, you blame them. If things go well you take credit for hiring such bright people. I love corporate America.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by LifestyleJayhawk View Post
                    Consultants and contractors provide a valuable service. If things go bad, hey Accenture proposed this, you blame them. If things go well you take credit for hiring such bright people. I love corporate America.
                    Yeah, that's one thing that I have to balance. I'm kinda low hanging fruit, if I'm involved in too much "trouble" like this situation, it's easier to just not pick me up for projects, even if I wasn't in the wrong. They have much more control over their FTEs.

                    So, I try to keep a low profile, and then something like this happens and I've got to make some "noise" for myself.

                    Fortunately, I've been a FTE for them before, I was one of the lead people that designed their Workpaper Standards, taught Adobe classes, and so on...so I have some goodwill, but that can easily run out in the right circumstances.

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