Fixer: I’m struggling in my new senior position

If my employer won't give me any assistance, do I have any options other than leaving?

I’ve worked in HR for four years in an HR officer capacity and have completed level 3 and 5 CIPD qualifications. I joined a new company in an assistant manager position to support the HR manager. However, they left within eight weeks of me joining and, although I wasn’t ready to manage the department, I was pushed into the role. I’m really struggling in the senior position and after expressing concern about my own capability in the busy role I have been refused help. I’ve tried to give the fantastic opportunity a try but it’s not working. What else can I do other than leave after only six months?

Some of the best learning comes when we are thrown in at the deep end. If you saw this as a superb opportunity, would it change your outlook on the situation you find yourself in? You have strong qualifications and now could be the time to put your learning into practice.

Try a new conversation with your company, and this time frame it positively. The departure of your manager will be a problem for the business too and there may be all sorts of constraints in the way of resolving it quickly. Equally, your bosses will know the extent of your experience so their expectations should be equal to that.

There are some things you need to know, including how long you will be left to manage alone and when a new hire may arrive. Ask to agree your objectives for this interim period and be clear on how your performance will be judged. Armed with this information, you can build a supporting development plan and identify a mentor. Share your plan with your employer: it shows you are taking ownership of your development and rising to the challenge. If there is a real hike in your responsibilities, do not be afraid to ask to be remunerated accordingly.

Finally, remember no one likes having problems brought to them. This framework gives you a way of having a realistic and positive conversation. If at the end of that you still feel this isn’t for you, it may be you decide you have to leave – but at least that big decision will have been well informed.