Protecting one’s behind is common place in the field of architecture and construction especially in the presence of the client. Some professionals do their best to make the right decisions and maintain an honest and open dialog with the client and project team while others make up excuses to try to hide their incompetance.
Recently, I had to draw up a detail for one of the project I am working on and my boss advised me to send it to the GC (general contractor) for comments. I sent the GC an email with the attached detail asking him to review and comment. The email was cc’d to the client, the owner’s rep, and my boss.
The following day, I see an email from the owner’s rep asking the GC if he reviewed the detail I had sent and if he had comments.
The next day, I see an email from the GC answering the email from the owner’s rep. He replied that the detail was not attached with the email. The GC’s response was cc’d to the client, owner’s rep, my boss, and me.
I acted quickly to search for the email I had originally sent along with the detail. Once the original email and attachment was traced, I clicked on the “forward” button and cc’d all names, and included a message that indicated when the original email was sent on a specific date and emphasized the detail was attached with the email and cc’d the same people on the email.
Later that day, my boss explained to me the GC had called him and asked that I refrain from throwing him (GC) under the bus. I was taken aback by the GC’s audacity and responded, “Then HE shouldn’t throw ME under the bus!” My boss agreed.
The nerve of the GC trying to insuate that it was my incompetance that kept him from reviewing the detail. Please! The GC does not realize who he is working with.
Bascially, the GC neglected this project and was not focused on some of the issues that required his attention. Instead of being honest about it and taking responsibility for his lack of action, he tried to use me as a scapegoat. Not cool!
As a matter of professional practice, I will copy certain members of the project team on most emails I send out. It’s important to keep people in the loop of what you are accomplishing. It’s good practice because your boss will see how well you are doing in managing the project and team; and the client will be pleased that you are meeting project goals and deadlines.
If you’re lucky, your boss or supervisor will come to your defense (that is if he or she reads your emails at all), or if your boss has confidence in your abiltiies, your boss will let you take care of it. This current boss is not quick to come to my defense but I have had bosses who were and it helped to build my confidence.
I’m not suggesting that all GC’s are incompetant and conniving; and this is one example and experience of many that I have had with GC’s. I’ve met good ones who I’d like work with again, and there are GC’s I hope to never see again. Architects are also capable of scapegoating and lying but that’s for another post.