Help, blame game

So this year our team organization hasn’t been the best. We had decided on a design too late, and the one that was chosen hadn’t been thought out at all, so 3-4 days later we re-chose, and the team decided on mine. Now I had most of the design in solidworks, I say most, not every bolt was planned out, mostly cause I’m just one person. Anyways, we go with my design, and I start building the manipulator while everyone else builds the frame, our team leader(who is a mentor) is now blaming everything on me. She says I’m way over schedule, and that I’m arguing to much. This comes from the fact that the lead build mentor has a personal problem with my design, and keeps on saying things won’t work, because " I just know it won’t". So I had tried to explain how everything would work, which apparently was arguing cause I was defending my design. So he ended up changing some stuff, such as frame height, and placement of things, which caused me to have to redo my math. So most of the reason that I’m late is because of the fat that items keep on changing, and that i had a 4 day late start. Now basically every meeting, I get yelled at for being to augmentative, and for causing the team to fail. And now they are trying to say that everything I have done to this point is wrong, even though I had to do it without the help of them, and the lead build mentor is who does all of the cnc machining for us, so I haven’t been able to have any parts cut. And It’s all apparently my fault. But if I try to explain everything, I’m told to be quiet and stop arguing, before I can even get a word out. I have had good relations with the team leader before this, and I don’t know where this is coming from. Any ideas one what I can do?

I say just try and keep calm, try to just talk to your team leader and if something doesn’t go well, bring in a third party such as a parent, or adult to help solve the problem.

With the limited amount of time remaining, I’m sure everyone is getting cranky and irritated… even at the slightest things. Stay calm, work hard, talk it out, and remember:

FIRST seeks to promote a philosophy of teamwork and collaboration among engineers and encourages competing teams to remain friendly, helping each other out when necessary.

Start with a private converstion with your mentor. Ask “why won’t this work”. If she says “I just know it won’t” then reply with “OK, how do we get this to work”. Then listen.

Keep positive. Keep personalities out of the discussion. Listen and evaluate the answers. And keep the subject on making the robot function as needed.

This is a good learning exercise in ‘dealing with an unknown roadblock’ (be it a person, an attitude, or a thought process … yours or hers :wink: )

Grab a mediator, and you and the team mentor(s) in question sit down.

Things to talk about:

–Personal issues with the design have no place. You have to be able to back up the issue with something substantial. If you can’t, then you have a choice to be quiet, or ruin the team (or at least your relationships).
–Shoot the engineer and build the thing. If it’s designed, build it as designed, unless there is a fatal flaw that must be fixed, or an improvement that nobody thought about before (and it better actually be an improvement!).
–If you didn’t help with the design, and you could have, you have no right to complain about the design. Sorry.
–If your design isn’t chosen, you just have to live with it. You’ll either be amazed, or you’ll have the chance to say “I told you so”. (Not directed to the OP, but to the mentors in question–I suspect that that was part of the problem.)

Also, you’re a team. If you’re blaming ONE MEMBER for the team being behind, the law of pointing fingers must come into play, as you also are a team member. (The law of pointing fingers? You point a finger at someone, there are pointing right back at you.)

You could also print out The Wrath of Abibarshim and post it, quite publicly. It’ll provide some comic relief… but underline code item #3 and code item #10, particularly the time part, if you want to issue some pointed reminders.

I believe Eric meant, “…there are THREE pointing right back at you.”.

WRATH OF ABIBARSHIM == Fantastic! Both witty and wise. I will recommend it for all my team to read. Thanks for the link.

It takes a team to succeed and it takes a team to fail.

That’s a very simple statement and one that is often glossed over - especially by those who want to take all the credit for one and give all the credit for another. Dave Lavery made an awesome post about this aspect of team dynamics a while back. I’ll do a search and see if I can find it.

In the meantime, think about how much time you spend listening rather than defending the design. The time is short and what is passed is past. As change occurs, see how you can contribute in a positive beneficial manner to help get the job done. If that includes listening and paying attention as change is made - then listen and pay attention.

Edit: I haven’t located the post that I’m looking for but I came across another one. This is a post of Dave’s that addresses the bigger picture. It’s a good one that points out the value of working well in a group situation. I’ll look for the other post later after work.


well lately its seems that the mentor says things just to kind of rub it in or something. Like I’ll be working really hard on the robot, and she’ll say, “you’re two weeks over deadline, I hope the team doesn’t fail” or something like that. I tried saying that I couldn’t be given all the blame, as it was a team design, but then she responded, “you need to learn to just take the blame”

If there are other mentors, I would discuss with one of them, and explain the problems you’re having with this specific mentor. Ask them to talk to her for you, or to mediate a discussion between the two of you.

Thanks all for the help, now that the build season is over, I will seek out some mediation, and hope that this hasn’t affected my eligibility for the field team