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What to do with an absentee boss?

By Gustophe ·
I have a boss that has been absent 3 of the last 5 months. It is obvious he doesn't want to be here and he makes it clear by taking every opportunity not to be here (sick, wife is sick, kids are sick, car ran out of gas, car went off the road, had "something" to take care of at home, wife and kids are sick, uncle is sick, Grandfater is sick, need to fix car, etc.) He lives about an hour away from work and his wife doesn't work so whenever he feels like staying home he does.

The adminstration never seems to notice his absence unless there is a meeting. He claims to be working from home so the absences don't show up on any attendence sheet because he doesn't mark those days as an absence. On these days you can't seem to reach him and nothing is getting done from what anyone in our department can see.

The people in our department are at wits end as what to do. We have been tracking days he is out and days he comes in late (ie 11 am) and leaves early (ie 4 pm) but don't know what to do with the information. It has been happening so much it has become a joke in our department but in reality it is getting our department a lot of heat for projects not being done and important decisions not being made.

To compound the problem he never tells anyone (even the assistant director) what is going on so we can't make the decisions. There are also certain jobs that only he can do that he refuses to delegate or train others to do. One of those tasks is phone support/installation and people have had to wait 2 months to get phones or change phone settings.

We are contemplating talking to administration about this but don't want the rath a boss can bring.

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Boss Ain't In

by BFilmFan In reply to What to do with an absent ...

Don't take the heat. If there is a project due that doesn't get completed and someone from another area complains to a team memeber, direct them to the manager and state politely, "I am unable to discuss this sort of issue. You need to discuss with my manager."

Have everyone on the team use the same technique and present a united front. If the CEO comes in and wants an answer, direct him to the manager. Eventually someone in uppper management will catch on to the issue and address it. The thing to note here is to be firm, but very polite. Since you don't handle scheduling, you can't speak with the CEO or other management on scheduling issues. That is your boss's job to address.

Unless you are in management, the conduct of the absentee boss isn't your issue. It is his boss's issue. You are paid to perform your duties and not maintain a boss overwatch. If your boss refuses to delegate work in his absence, this is another management issue to address.

Have team members discussed with your manager in an open team meeting the desire to learn and take on more responsibilities? Simply expecting the boss to hand you more work and responsibility isn't every manager's style.

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I second that e-motion

by stress junkie In reply to Boss Ain't In

"Unless you are in management, the conduct of the absentee boss isn't your issue. It is his boss's issue. You are paid to perform your duties and not maintain a boss overwatch. If your boss refuses to delegate work in his absence, this is another management issue to address." -- BFilmFan previous post in this thread.

I couldn't have said it any better so I just repeated the original statement. Pick your battles and DON'T try to have upper management discipline your boss. IT'S NOT YOUR JURISDICTION. Your boss doesn't answer to you: You answer to your boss.

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Several ways to go

by amcol In reply to What to do with an absent ...

You don't say what kind of company you're in, or how big, which impacts your go forward strategy.

Not up to you to determine the reasons for the boss's behavior, nor to be judgmental about it. You should focus on the impact, in business terms.

Your boss may be lazy, or disorganized, or have a substance abuse problem, or be running another business on the side, or who knows what. Doesn't matter. Your department is dysfunctional to the point of non-functional, and before you and your colleagues are the victims of the collateral fallout which is undoubtedly on the way you need to take action.

Step one...decide what outcome you want. Do you want the boss to improve? Do you want him fired or replaced? Are you just fed up and want to move over or out?

If you want the boss to stay but improve then talk with him (when he's actually on the premises), non-confrontationally. Don't put him on the defensive. Be logical and factual, talk about specifics. He's been out of the office and unavailable on such-and-such days, on those days such-and-such happened and your department was unable to respond, etc. At the very least you'll be putting him on notice that his behavior is not going unnoticed (don't assume that he thinks anyone is actually keeping track, or cares if someone is).

If you've had it with this boss but don't want to leave you need to talk with him first (which will get you nowhere but you're setting a stage), then talk to his boss (depending on your relationship with that person) or go to HR. Other posters will undoubtedly disagree with this, saying that HR is ineffectual and don't waste your time. That's about 90% correct, but once again depending on the size and culture of your organization you may have no choice.

If you've just had it and see no way for the situation to improve then get your resume together. Frankly, based on similar experiences I've had and those of some of my colleagues, I'm afraid this is probably your only option.

There's a lot more I could say on this subject but I'd need to know more about your particular situation.

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This is slightly evil, but...

by Salamander In reply to What to do with an absent ...

...sounds like there's a power vacuum.

I'd be tempted to take as much rope as I could, in that case. Run things as you choose; just leave FYI's on what you're doing via e-mail he's not reading or voice mail he's not checking. You can turn this situation to your advantage. Just be sure not to hang yourself.

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My take too

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to This is slightly evil, bu ...

If someone is foolish enough to leave their power lying about unwanted. Take it. Taught by a classic empire building manager. Anyone who was seen in management eyes not to be taking on their responsibilities had them removed the next time they weren't paying attention. This guy was so avaricious, he had the top floor boys running around looking for things to do that he hadn't thought of yet.
He was a git to work for though, always was assisting him in this, heklping him with that, delegated the work but never the kudos.

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by awfernald In reply to What to do with an absent ...

and get some actual productive work done!!!

Some day, some one WILL notice, and the problem will resolve itself. As long as his absences are not impacting YOUR work, don't worry about it.

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Though of course

by LiamE In reply to Rejoice!!!

Though of course the one time you get stuck in traffic and are 5 minutes late you just know that the boss will be there for a change and sitting looking at his watch tutting.

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Assistance from rest of company??

by NotSoChiGuy In reply to What to do with an absent ...


The fact that he is responsible for a good deal of support, and yet is unavailable, is quite unsettling indeed.

If you have the support of others in your organization (people that have been affected by his lapses), maybe you could urge a group of them to approach management about the situation? Hearing complaints from affected stakeholders, and not just from an individual team, may look better (really...what do they have to gain by this guy's ouster, except better performance....while your motivation could be called into question).

Also, if you have any call tracking capability, perhaps you could find a way to get the stats (this person's FIRST CALL and RESOLUTION stats have to be terrible) public. Perhaps start a chat with an exec in a different department, and float out an idea like 'It would be good to show the value IT is delivering to the rest of the firm'....meeting scheduled...performance charts displayed....everything looks good except anything this person touches. Hmmmmm....

Finally, speaking of other execs...try to sell one of them on the need for a phone upgrade. Handsfree....speed dialing, whatever...execs are usually easy sells when it comes to newer-faster-better-cooler stuff. Get someone at the highest rank possible dependant upon this guy to get the phone changed...and things may be put into motion.

Of course, I know nothing of the atmosphere of your workplace, so these may be totally useless to you.

Good luck!!

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His boss is not an idiot

by DC_GUY In reply to What to do with an absent ...

Someone besides you knows whats going on. Believe that, I promise that it's true. No upper level manager is that unobservant, uncaring, and incompetent to not know about behavior that is this flagrant.

Therefore, to have let it go on this long and get this bad, somebody at a higher level is IN ON IT! Perhaps your boss has something on somebody, their daddy owes his daddy a favor, he's related to a big shot in the local crime syndicate, he's having an affair with the CEO's secretary... there are a million reasons why he could be getting away with this in plain sight.

You and your friends are not 50 IQ points smarter than the entire rest of the company. You're not the only ones who have noticed this behavior. Be very very very careful, you could be walking into something you'll wish you hadn't.

Somebody up there is in on this and he or she will definitely NOT appreciate you trying to give it a higher profile!

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Time is your friend!

by skywalker_al In reply to What to do with an absent ...

I have been in a similar situation, but not as obvious. My boss would leave unexpectedly without notification. You would go look for him and he was gone for the day and nobody knew where. Call his cell phone, voicemail. After my bosses boss left the company (we had a good working relationship) I asked him about it. He knew it was going on, but not the extent, but did not know of anyone else to replace him without causing a major uproar (due to my age and years of experience in the field--26/7). He said that he knew this guys time was about 2 more years and then I would have been ready, so he was just waiting it out for him to retire. That way no 'stink' about him leaving the position. Pray about it and give a little more time, but some subtle hints might not hurt.

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