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I lead a project involving several teams led by separate team leaders. There's this one TL who always goes to me to complain about the work of their own team members, and frankly it has become exhausting because I have several other things to juggle and expect the TL to address those issues at their level before escalating to me. I give advice on what they can do to address the issues, but it always looks like they want me to be the one to do something. I don't want to appear dismissive but I want to tell the TL to handle it instead of complaining to me. What is the best way to do that? And at what point should I really step in?

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    Sounds a bit like this TL either doesn't want to be or doesn't know how to be a TL ... Is there any training they could/should have? – brhans Mar 8 '18 at 18:16
  • Does the TL have the authority to address the issues? It is not much helpful to tell him to address the issues himself, if the team doesn't listen to him and he cannot do anything to make them do so. – Masked Man Mar 10 '18 at 16:42
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I always had a policy of "Don't bring me a problem unless you already have a solution". It's a polite way of saying "do your job" without saying it. It also creates a solutions-oriented mindset.

If you tell the team lead to only bring complaints when he has solutions, he'll be in a more positive track. Team lead is a sticky situation because the position is not technically management, so the TL might not be clear on just when HE can step in.

Sit down with the TL and outline exactly where his authority lies, then only step in when he's reached the limit of what he can do. This way, the TL's roles and responsibilities will be more clearly defined and the only reason he should be coming to you with complaints at that point is when he has a solution in hand, or a need for you to step in.

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    +1 for "Team lead is a sticky situation because the position is not technically management". No one wants to be "that guy" (or girl) who has to be reminded that they are "only" a TL, hence, it's helpful to clearly define management vs. TL functions. – cag51 Mar 9 '18 at 0:25

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