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Ask Brian: My Boss’ Horrible Time Management Skills

September 9th, 2009 · 2 Comments

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M asks:

I am hoping you can help me or offer some expert advice.
I am a young professional [mid-twenties] but I am very successful in my career. Throughout my college experience I held multiple internships and this helped secure a great job directly out of college. Since then I have been promoted and have moved to a few different companies all working my way up the corporate latter. Needless to say my work ethic is very strong and I take pride in this. At all my previous jobs I have been complimented on this work ethic and have never done anything to jeopardize my position.

So here comes the problem- my current boss. I have worked with many types of people before [man, women, old, young etc] but I have never worked with somebody similar to my current boss. She is extremely disorganized to the point where she loses everything [her desk area is called the “pit”]. She is very unresponsive and does not answer emails from me or anybody else which just delays deadlines. In my current position I can only bring projects so far until she has to sign off on them. Due to her lack of time management skills she misses every single deadline and thus creates HUGE problems for everybody in my department, especially me. I am the only person who directly reports to her and thus her lack of deadlines just results in me trying to cover up her problem or working extremely late almost every night to do so.

I remind her of every deadline weeks, days, hours before it is due via email, phone and in person and she just chooses to ignore this. Every day I print out everything she needs to review and put it in a designated folder on her desk that she never looks at. It is not only frustrating but I am concerned that she is hindering my chances or ever getting promoted within this company. Because I work directly underneath her on the same team, her mistakes often are seen as the “teams” mistake, thus lumping me in with her.

She is the first person to admit that she has a problem and that she misses deadlines and it is a joke to her.

I am truly at a loss of what to do but I know I cannot stay within this company under these circumstances must longer. I am working extremely long hours [which I don’t mind if we are busy] but solely because she cannot mange her time. I am not sure if I should address this issue with her or her higher ups? I am at a loss and hoping you can help!

Brian Sayz:

Do not question your organizational tactics.  I think that you’ve put your best foot forward on this one.  It’s that your boss is hopeless.  By constantly reminding her and setting up an organizational strategy to get the work done that you need to function, you have been proactive in working with her.  Who knows how she got the job, but at this time that’s besides the point.  It would not be unreasonable at this time to consult with your Human Resources person.

Approach HR from the standpoint that this is a concern that you have about yourself and is there anything else you can do to get your superior to be more timely about deadlines.  Express that you have set up a system to aid your boss in accomplishing the work and send her regular reminders of tasks that the team needs finished to be successful.  This is NOT to be a complaining session about your boss, but a discussion on what the team can do to be more successful and you are concerned because the strategies you have implemented seem not to be working.  “So what else do you suggest I do?” 

I have found that most HR departments are loaded with people that are trained to deal with concerns of this nature and are usually warm and receptive to your comments.  After all, it’s their job to ensure quality in the work place and to provide sound advice on such situations, as to what would be an appropriate course of action, without retaliation.  I see going to talk to HR a little like walking into the confessional at church.  You will not be judged in the HR office, but you will be judged by your boss.

Related posts:

  1. Ask Brian – My Boss Just Got Fired
  2. How To Think Like Management (And How Doing So Can Help Your Career)
  3. My Dumb Office- Management… A Different Animal?

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  • Alexis

    Thanks for posting this topic! I’ve been dealing with a similar situation at work and with this economy, it’s a tough call on what to do – especially to protect yourself from not getting fired.

  • Jay

    I am also dealing with a very similar problem I have been working at my present job for 3 years – as we are a small team my immediate Boss is also the owner of the business and no HR department – reading ‘M’s’ post was as if I had written it myself – only I have not got the luxury of anyone higher to speak to. He asks for the profit and loss at the end of every month as a matter of course not digesting the figures or showing any interest these I provide in an approximate form as he never completes the invoicing or makes any effort to make the cashflow situation run smoothly – we have invoices outstanding since 2006 and I have indexed them to make the task easier for him as he fills his time in every other dept. but the one that needs his attention – I am unable to complete my role within the company and it drives me insane – I am at my wits end as to what to do !!! please advise .