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Dear HR Professional,

Our department can't keep a leader and is falling apart. What's the best thing to do when there's nobody there to correct or defend your department?

Signed,
Lacking a Leader

Dear Lacking a Leader,

Sorry to hear about your team’s situation. It’s frustrating not to have a steady supervisor in your department—after all, it can take weeks or even months to build trust with a new manager and having many (or zero) managers in a short amount of time can make it feel like no one is looking out for you.

And without one, it’s easy to feel powerless. Rest assured that there are a few things you can do to make things better for you and your department. Here’s what I recommend:


1. Step Up

If you don’t have a clear supervisor who can delegate, it’s a great opportunity for you or someone else on your team to step up and claim some manager responsibilities in the interim. Chances are, you’re not the only one on your team who feels like things are falling apart.

If you’ve identified problems in your department that need correcting, why not start those conversations with your teammates directly? After all, high-performing teams are characterized by the ability to communicate and resolve problems openly. That starts most authentically from the ground up—you don’t need a manager to set the tone for an open and trusting team.

Try setting up a weekly team huddle with your department to discuss updates, what’s going well, and what could be improved. Simply providing a safe space to talk about these things will make a world of a difference!


2. Find an Advocate

Think about leaders in other departments that you work closely with. People who have had direct experience working with your team will be better allies for hearing out your concerns. If there is anyone like that at your company, try inviting them out for a coffee or lunch.

While I don’t recommend directly asking them to speak up or step in for your team (they have their own department to manage, of course), try picking their brain about things that aren’t going well on your own team and seek their advice on how you can make it better.

In turn, they’ll be more likely to keep your department in mind when having other conversations that may affect your team.


3. Make Your Voice Heard

Never underestimate the power of speaking up. If you haven’t already, you should voice your concerns with someone on your company’s HR team.

This problem might seem obvious to you, but the rest of the company may not realize how bad things are on your team without a direct supervisor to communicate that to leadership. More than likely, your company will do what they can to make your situation better—no one wins in a situation where an entire team is unhappy.



Hopefully, trying one or all of the above tips will help improve your short-term day-to-day. If nothing else, you’ll be the team hero for stepping up and taking action. Good luck!



This article is part of our Ask an Expert series—a column dedicated to helping you tackle your biggest career concerns. Our experts are excited to answer all of your burning questions, and you can submit one by emailing us at editor(at)themuse(dot)com and using Ask an Honest HR Professional in the subject line.

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