Slacker Boss

I’ve got a problem with my boss

…who expects his staff to work an average nine-to-five day, but always arrives late and leaves most days by 4:30. There is always an excuse about why he has to leave early, if he says anything at all. Long lunches are de rigueur with him, but he sends out “Where are you????” emails if staff aren’t promptly back at their post after a meeting or an outside lunch. It’s humiliating to have someone constantly upbraiding grown adults, many of whom have more experience than this guy. We work in a big organization, but the exec he reports to is retiring soon and doesn’t seem to care about my boss’s comings and goings. What’s the best way to communicate to this person how discouraging it is to have a supervisor slacking off like this and flouting rules he insists others follow?

Yours truly,

Fed up with double standard

Dear Fed Up,

On a certain level, working for someone else means doing it their way. Your boss tells you what to do, and you do it, and then you get paid for it. It’s called working for a living, and virtually all of us, including Queen Elizabeth II, have to just suck it up, put on the name tag, and show up for work. That’s business at its most ape-scratching, primitive level.
Some points in your letter, though, suggest that there are other levels at work. You mention that some of the staff have “more experience”. This suggests to me that the slacker manager may be quite a bit younger than some of you. Are older, more seasoned employees are having trouble “answering” to someone younger than they are?

Older workers, younger boss

If that’s the case, you might as well get over it. As we age, we are constantly placed in a widening pool of people who are younger than we are, and technology being as accelerated as it it is these days, a younger manager – or someone just “out of school”, may actually have MORE experience working in an evolving tech and communications environment. Older staff may have a lot to learn from younger managers, even if their new bosses haven’t been on the job very long. If you think that’s the case in your workplace, try to take a healthier attitude toward respecting your boss’s expertise, and be willing to ask for help or mentoring. Certainly, you will have a healthy reservoir of acquired skills yourself, which you can reciprocally share. One of them may be interpersonal skills such as communicating respectfully via email. Apparently, your boss needs some pointers. I suggest you solicit some generic guidelines from your Communications department, if you have one, that can be distributed to managers about “Effective Email Communications”. Your boss needs to know that firing off demanding, petulant emails is a sure way to aggravate the staff you’re trying to get to cooperate.

Looking for a new job

THAT BEING SAID, it’s hard to believe that your company is still in business with such ‘retiring’ management (meant in both senses of the word). Employees derive inspiration from management that is energized and honest, and recognizes effort and merit. People are discouraged and frustrated by favouritism or cavalier management – the result is lower productivity and sinking morale. If you’re sure that your boss isn’t dealing with a health issue or a family issue that requires special accommodation from the 9 to 5 schedule, you might take a long hard look at why you’re choosing to continue working for an organization that is clearly going to send itself down the tubes eventually. Keeping unproductive and troublesome managers in place, and providing no recourse for their performance evaluation is a recipe for stagnation. If you think the future of your organization looks a lot like its present, you should brush off your networking skills, and make the most of all that time your boss is “off site” by looking for another job.

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