My team leader, who only works part time during the summer months, is not offering me (or other team members) adequate help when he's in the office. We're told he is either too busy with his own work or we should figure it out ourselves, despite these being questions we can't look up the answer to.

I've brought this up during our weekly meetings, when we talk about what we've worked on. I have listed which tasks I can't progress with and why. He'll say to leave it for now and work on something else, assigning more tasks so you don't run out. So I now have a growing list of semi-completed tasks for which the deadline is the end of this month and this is making me increasingly fearful.

Who can I talk to about this? My team lead answers directly to the CEO, but the CEO is on vacation until the end of the month and not reachable unless in case of emergency. I could try and talk to our HR person but I'm not sure if she is the right person for this? Or should I just listen to my team lead and keep working on other things? My main worry is that I'm going to be seen as not doing my job or being unsuited for it. How can I best handle this so I don't end up being at fault?

  • 1
    Have you told your team-lead about your fears for the deadline? Do you have a manager in addition to your team-lead, or is the lead also your manager? – Erik Aug 10 '17 at 16:58
  • Please tell a little bit more: Is the team lead also the project manager? How much is he involved in the project? hom may people are in the team? what is your position? The anwer should depend a little bit on these factors – Sascha Aug 10 '17 at 18:40
  • I am puzzled to see that this question is marked as a duplicate when people, situation, workplace can all be different. – chicken burger Jan 5 '18 at 9:51

All that you can do is to document your efforts to mitigate in as much detail as possible. Send a "memorandum" e-mail to your team lead each time you have a conversation, such as:

Thanks for our conversation about the XYZ project. As I stated before, I am having trouble with _____ because _____. If I am understanding your response correctly, you've instructed me to _____, even in light of our upcoming XX-XX-XXXX deadline, because ______. If I am misunderstanding this, please respond with any corrections. Again, thanks.

"Bob" (smile) may decide to pick up the phone and call you with corrections to avoid an e-mail response. If this is the case, write another e-mail in the same fashion. You want to capture everything, whether he acknowledges it or not.

  • I can't upvote this a thousand times although I would if I could. – HLGEM Aug 10 '17 at 19:45
  • 1
    Nice answer, another option would be to capture those things in tools frequently used by companies like Asana or Slack, so it is visible to everyone in the team as some sort of "office log" – DarkCygnus Aug 10 '17 at 20:27

You ask how to best handle it, so that you are not at fault in the end.

A good suggestion seems to be a paper trail. From your question it seems, as if everything was verbal so far. You should do this via e-mail, so that you can outline in the end

  • that you tried to solve the problems
  • that you couldn't solve them without your team leader's help
  • that your team leader was not of help to you
  • that your team leader gave you other tasks instead

So if you are not at fault, but your manager, then have every step covered with a paper trail.

During the meeting or when he has not much time to reply, you will probably not discuss the tasks in detail, so write an e-mail repeating the important points said and, for example, asking additional questions. You could sent an e-mail regaring the semi-completed tasks, since it is already a list. This way, it is acknowledged, that your team leader was aware of all that.

With regards to whom else to ask, I can't help and leave this to others.

  • 2
    Get it in writing is almost always the first suggestion. +1 – SliderBlackrose Aug 10 '17 at 19:36

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .