Friday, April 22, 2011

The Absentee Boss

At first glance, it looks like the perfect situation - nobody to glare at you when you’re five minutes late, ask you how many coffee / cigarette breaks you’re taking, comment on your appearance, etc, etc. And you’re right - it is. The mistake, the trap, as it were, is to think that that’s all it means. 

Being your own master means freedom - and power to establish your own rules. But as you may have recently heard in a fairly popular movie, with power comes responsibility. Responsibility for your own actions! 

But why do you need to be responsible? Can’t you just sit back, relax, and as long as the work is getting done, enjoy some of the benefits? Why do you need to become your own conscience? Here’s why.


Without your supervisor around, you’re that much more vulnerable to backbiting and gossip. Because this may happen when you aren’t around, you won’t even be aware of it, and neither will your boss - so wrong impressions can get formed and cast in stone fairly fast. It’s also very easy for this impression to circulate back to your boss at some point; and by then, it’s too late to correct it.


Miscommunication in a carelessly-worded email, or an unanswered call, is very easy. All the other cues which demonstrate your commitment and hard work are missing. Long hours and visible stress doesn’t show up on the report delivered the next morning.

Tips to handle an absentee boss: 

  • Discipline yourself. You have to work twice as hard to maintain that same good impression.
  • Don’t fall into a comfort zone; you may not be aware that negative perceptions are being built till it’s too late.
  • Put everything on mail, so there’s not chance of any accidental or convenient forgetting - and your sent items folder is a ready reckoner for everything you said.
  • Learn to use the calendar feature and ’mark for follow-up’ feature on your mailbox. It will ensure you avoid the forgetfulness trap. If your boss sees you every day, he can remind you about pending tasks. If he isn’t around, he’ll recall it only when it blows up into a problem.
  • Don’t be a problem - be a solution. If you say something’s going wrong, have a course of action ready. You have to do it because you’re in charge, and your boss won’t see you as someone who only appears in calamities.
  • Talk as often as you can. Make sure he always knows your situation and point of view, instead of depending on second-hand talk.
  • Summarise the day, daily. This way he knows what’s going on and so do you when you walk in the next morning.
  • Build relationships with other people. They’re already jealous of your freedom; win them over, get them on your side.
  • And if all else fails - always have a backup plan ready, if the worst happens. Being unprepared when he asks you about a complaint received will only reinforce that complaint. 

    With these tips, having an absentee boss won’t be such a problem after all!

    Image and article Credit: 

1 comment:

Root Of Three said...

Nicely Written Deepa, With this writting it seems like You have been through such a problems. anyway, keep up the good words.

will be following up with ur thoughts.

Take care.
Root Of Three

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