I am working in an IT company and we offer companies the management of their IT infrastructure. Our support team consists of seven members and one team leader. The team leader, one member and me have the most experience as consultants, the other only occasionally consult little companies and mostly handle support.

I recently took a week of holidays and here is the question:

Who should I inform about tasks that need to be done in my absence?

I was sending a summary of remaining tasks (like four or so) to our team leader, with the request, he may please delegate the work to the co-workers he sees fit best.

He told me, it is not his job to do that and I should talk to my co-workers myself about those tasks.

I believe it is his job, because he runs the team and knows best who has time for what task in the time I am not in the office. He is also able to handle delegation in the case someone suddenly needs to attend to something else or gets sick.

  • 1
    What culture is this? Commented Mar 24, 2014 at 13:27
  • 2
    Germany. If that is what you mean by 'culture'?
    – Daniel
    Commented Mar 24, 2014 at 13:39
  • 3
    Yes. The amount of politeness neccesary to get work done varies between cultures. German culture is - to my understanding - requires respect but not a lot of extra politeness towards superiors. Hence if your superior says you need to do the job, well, thats it. Commented Mar 24, 2014 at 13:42
  • I edited this to focus it slightly and added some tags, great question and welcome to The Workplace!
    – enderland
    Commented Mar 24, 2014 at 18:04
  • @JFA: By excluding an "at-user" and referring to "he", you confused me.
    – Martin F
    Commented Mar 25, 2014 at 8:07

2 Answers 2


Despite what he says, it is his responsibility as team leader to ensure that none of your tasks slip through the cracks while you are away. You won't be there, and you presumably lack the authority to direct any of the other team members to take on any of your tasks. The team lead should be the person with the best visibility into the workload of other team members, so is therefore best suited to determine who should take on which task(s). And the team lead has the authority to require them to take up the extra work, even if they don't want to.

However, if you have sufficient visibility and knowledge yourself, then there's no harm in taking the opportunity that he's giving you to act as a team leader.

My suggestion would be that you play to what you've been asked to do while simultaneously shifting responsibility back onto the team leader; compose an e-mail outlining when you'll be gone, the tasks that you know others will have to take on, and your recommendations on which team members should take up which tasks. Send this to the team lead, and also CC all the impacted developers. Make it clear in your e-mail that you are simply making a recommendation, and suggest that anyone who has any questions or issues liaise with the team leader and the rest of the group to work out a final assignment that everyone is happy with.

  • 4
    "Send this to the team lead, and also CC all the impacted developers. Make it clear in your e-mail that you are simply making a recommendation, and suggest that anyone who has any questions or issues liaise with the team leader". I think this is a very good solution. Thank you for your time!
    – Daniel
    Commented Mar 24, 2014 at 13:20
  • 5
    I guess ultimately, it is the team leader's responsibility, but if he assigns/delegates/abdicates the task to someone and it doesn't get done, they're going to face some consequences.
    – user8365
    Commented Mar 24, 2014 at 14:32
  • Sounds to me that if things go wrong when you are absent, you will be held responsible (either explicitly or implicitly). Make sure everyone in the team knows what needs doing and who has been asked to do it.
    – mattnz
    Commented Mar 25, 2014 at 4:15
  • +1 make recommendations to the team lead. Besides this just generally being an effective way of dealing with the tasking, it casts you as helpful to those with power over you, rather than argumentative.
    – jhocking
    Commented Mar 25, 2014 at 13:10

Upvote to @aroth, I think that's an excellent answer.

I'd just add: It is his job as the team leader to assign tasks to other team members. But if he assigns the task of assigning tasks to you, then it becomes your responsibility.

Without knowing the details of your team, I can't really say if this is a good idea or not. It may be that the team leader recognizes that he does not know who is qualified to do each of these tasks, but you do. Just for example, if your work consisted of some Java programming and some VB programming, and the team leader does not know who is a Java programmer and who is a VB programmer, but you do, then it makes sense for you to pick appropriate people for each job.

Normally you would not have the authority to assign tasks. But if the team leader has told you to do it, and someone says, "Hey, you can't give me work, you're not my boss", the appropriate response would be to say, "I was directed by the team lead to assign these tasks."

  • That is a very good addition to aroth's answer. Thank you, Jay.
    – Daniel
    Commented Mar 24, 2014 at 17:00

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