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Under the Bus

monster_school_busRecently we had an M2M outage at work, which caused annoyance and downtime for many of my users. It took the better part of a day to investigate and solve. As you can imagine it was a stressful time, executives were angry, etc; which was particularly difficult for me because I am a perfectionist when it comes to my work.

I must admit that I was especially irritated when I learned it had nothing to do with myself or M2M. When my counterpart, found his error and we started bringing users back online, an executive cornered me for an update.

What did I tell him? “Bob did _____ and it caused _____?”

No. I said, “Bob found it. It was a problem with M2M VBA and he managed to ferret out the answer by checking…. “

I never mentioned that Bob caused the problem with his new image distribution method. I focused on the troubleshooting and recovery effort rather than play the blame game.

Why am I telling you this? Well, my executives don’t even know I blog so they are very unlikely to read this. I just wanted to urge my readers (both of you) to never throw someone under the bus. It isn’t productive and is in fact disastrous when you work on a team.

Later, when my technical supervisor was back in the office he asked me about it. I gave him the facts, focusing on the solution and the good troubleshooting by Bob. He grinned and said, “He found the problem… because he caused it.”

I returned the grin and responded with, “Well, yeah.”

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2 comments to Under the Bus

  • Kim

    Dave, I just have to tell you that while your M2M technical writing is good, you really shine when you write about your feelings. Just some food for thought.

  • Stephen

    I would have to say, there ARE times when you have to throw someone under the bus. Especially when that person consistently does more damage than help. I once worked with a guy whose work I had to constantly undo and fix. He was the bane of our entire department.

    Unlike the example co-worker cited, he didn’t have the same ability to troubleshoot his own problems, nor learn from our assistance. It finally got to the point where we simply had to let him fail in order to get rid of him.

    There’s a point where being nice isn’t beneficial, but you have make sure it’s the right time, and give people chances to learn and improve first.

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