The Absentee Boss

Executive Coach NYC

Absentee Boss?

When does too much hands-off management reach the point of diminishing returns? In my executive coaching with clients I hear the frustration and sheer anger caused by absentee bosses.

It’s one thing to give your staff freedom and the ability to make independent decisions. It’s a whole different thing to be unavailable or fail to give any direction.

I hear stories about absentee bosses rarely touching base with clients and worse, how they are often a no show to scheduled one-on-one meetings with their direct reports. This creates escalating employee morale problems as the
disrespectful behavior continues with no one holding the boss accountable.

One client even cited an incident where her boss didn’t apologize for completely blowing off a scheduled meeting. Further, she stood up a candidate who had come in for an interview. There is no excuse for this type of behavior, however, it happens all to frequently.

Before you go to HR, I recommend you first try to deal with this on your own. Here are tactics for dealing with an absentee boss:

  • Build your relationship with your boss’s boss. It could be as simple as sharing pleasantries. Your boss’s boss will ultimately decide your fate anyway, and if s/he notices you are taking on more responsibility in your boss’s absence, this will be money in the bank during your performance review.
  • Learn to do more without your boss, so s/he relies on you and would hate to see you go. Make yourself indispensable and you will greatly improve your job security and bargaining position.
  • If you truly have a lot of downtime, use that time for improving your skills by further education and/or attending professional conferences. Reach out and connect with those in your industry who have influence. There’s no better way to prepare for your next move then building a relationship with outside hiring managers.

If all else fails, leave! You won’t be the first one to have to find a new job because of an absentee boss, and if your boss’s boss is aware of your boss’s shortcomings,you may force his/her hand and receive a promotion!

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