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How Do You Deal with a Disorganized Boss?

 
 
jespah
 
  1  
Reply Wed 8 Feb, 2006 01:26 pm
When I was working in insurance, I had a boss like this. I had to prepare large customer reports on a big honkin' (over a million rows of data and growing) database. So it took a few hours and sometimes days just to run queries, then the results would have to be read, interpreted, massaged, prettied up and put into a readable report. This all took time, as in a good week from start to finish. Plus, the database program (Brio Query 6.1) had a scheduling system wherein you could schedule a query to run overnight when no one else was hitting the database. But that was if you actually knew about your work in advance.

So, my boss would get a request on, say, the first of the month and sit on it until the 29th, when the customer would have called him, screaming. And then he'd give it to me, and tell me it was a rush. Things went out in a haphazard fashion (I hate that) and I was stressed beyond belief. Worked a lot of 12-hour days and no OT.

Finally, after a few months of this, I walked into his office and said, "Let me deal with K___" (a customer who wanted this stuff every month). And he was relieved, because the reason he sat on everything was because this customer made him nuts. Soon, K____ knew that if there were questions, problems or delays, that I was the person to talk to. And K____ was actually pretty dang reasonable once her reports started showing up on time and looking pretty and correct and organized etc. Eventually, I was able to customize stuff for K___, or explain why something was not available. K___ was happy, I was happy and my boss was relieved.

Eventually that boss was moved up and replaced with someone else. I continued to do stuff for K___ and other customers. But I wanted out. So, along with a lot of other things, I touted my experience turning things around with K____ on my resume. And I got another, far better job than that one.

BTW, while my boss was relieved and grateful that I took care of K____, he never gave me any $$ or other tangible evidence of appreciation, yet another reason why I am long gone from that place.

The moral of the story? Do your job professionally, as well as you can and in whatever way that makes you look as good as possible. This may involve this kind of an intervention. But, don't forget to look out for your own interests, as someone as disorganized as your current and my former boss may also be disorganized and forgetful come review time.
0 Replies
 
Bella Dea
 
  1  
Reply Wed 8 Feb, 2006 01:35 pm
Ok so where is the advice that the only way to deal with this guy is to shoot him?

Is that not a viable answer?
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JPB
 
  1  
Reply Wed 8 Feb, 2006 01:36 pm
jespah wrote:

Do your job professionally, as well as you can and in whatever way that makes you look as good as possible. This may involve this kind of an intervention. But, don't forget to look out for your own interests, as someone as disorganized as your current and my former boss may also be disorganized and forgetful come review time.


Very nice, Jes. Much better than what I was going to propose by suggesting she just shoot him.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Wed 8 Feb, 2006 01:39 pm
Re:
Bella Dea wrote:
How Do You Deal with a Disorganized Boss?

Kill him, bury him under the office floor, cut off his hair and make it into a wig, don it, wear his clothes and take his place.

Presto.
0 Replies
 
roger
 
  1  
Reply Wed 8 Feb, 2006 01:40 pm
Still, there is something to be said for instant gratification.
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jespah
 
  1  
Reply Wed 8 Feb, 2006 01:48 pm
Re:
nimh wrote:
Bella Dea wrote:
How Do You Deal with a Disorganized Boss?

Kill him, bury him under the office floor, cut off his hair and make it into a wig, don it, wear his clothes and take his place.

Presto.


What if the guy's bald?
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Bella Dea
 
  1  
Reply Wed 8 Feb, 2006 01:53 pm
I do not want to sleep with his wife.

<<shudder>>
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Chai
 
  1  
Reply Wed 8 Feb, 2006 02:10 pm
I know this won't help with today, but have you ever thought of having a sit-down with your boss?

Make an actual appt time to see him, to express not only your frustration, but also with some suggestions to make the both of you more productive together.

Over the last 2 years, I've done this I think on 3 different occassions with my boss.

My bosses biggest thing is that she'll have 5 big things going on in her head, and doesn't realize that she's only givng each one 20% of her attention at any one time. Because she doesn't on her own focus on any one thing, she sometimes repeatedly will worry out loud about something that I've already told her 2 or 3 times is under control. That of course leads to micromanaging, which is a big pet peeve of mine.

There's times I can't finish something until I get some numbers from her. In that case, I'll sit down in front of her as she's simultaneously on her cell phone, typing an email and has another call on hold.

As she finishes each task, I'll actually say to her "don't start another email, I have to talk to you....ok don't call anyone else....I have to talk to you......ususally when she's totally free, she'll pick up some report and I'll say "Anne?" Not looking up she'll say "yeah?"

"Anne, I needed to talk to you after you got off the phone, can I ask you a question?" Honestly, I wait until I have her undivided attention. If I ask for my numbers, and she says "later" I'll tell her right out that I have everything else, and just need hers.

I'll also tell her, "it'll take you less than 2 minutes to give me what I need"

Once, on a particularly whirling dervish day, she told me "I can't, I have these 3 people who need me right now." soooooooo.....I said, "I need you right now too, and I'm right here. Can I be your priority for a minute?'

I know my worth on my job....I get to be a priority as often as someone else.
0 Replies
 
Chai
 
  1  
Reply Wed 8 Feb, 2006 03:13 pm
Did I just kill this thread?

Oh, I just realized, Bella's probably bludgeoning her boss with a cudgel.



GIVE........ME........THOSE..........REPORTS......DAMMIT!!!!!
0 Replies
 
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Wed 8 Feb, 2006 05:59 pm
Bella Dea wrote:
Ok so where is the advice that the only way to deal with this guy is to shoot him?

Is that not a viable answer?


Laughing Perfect timing, Bella. I was posting that very thought as you were asking.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 8 Feb, 2006 10:27 pm
Oh, I thought that was a purposeful joke!

Funnier that it was accidental... :-)
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Asherman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Feb, 2006 02:59 pm
The way to deal with disorganization, is organize. The more disorganized your superior is, the better organized you must be. Jespa's suggestion is a good one. She identified the problem associated with a particular account that had a pattern of inadequacy. She talked with the boss, and presented an alternative that would (A) fix the problem, and (B) lighten the boss's load. Once she had control of the situation, she dealt with in an organized manner. This reduced her own stress, made for a satisfied customer, and made it possible for the supervisor to spend more time managing the job. The downside, is that Jespa's manager was not only disorganized, but ungrateful (probably even took credit for the improved situation). Jespa looked beyond her own problem to identify the underlying problem. Treat the problem, not the symptom.

In the absence of good leadership, the individual and group has to "work around" the problem on their own. Build a strong team if you can where each member of the group clearly knows how important a contribution they make to the group's effort. Build confidence in one another and in the group's ability to handle "hot" issues.

With the sort of management style you destcribe it can be fatal to have a backlog of work, so keep all aspects of the job up-to-date. One of the things you can do is found in the Boy's Scout's motto: "Be Prepared". Try to be ahead of the curve and anticipate what needs to be done. Your group may have "projects" either done, or almost done, before the order ever comes to begin. Having everyone on board, and with a clear idea of what their contribution will be, once the orders arrive they can be executed without a delay of getting everything ready. These steps should reduce time to completion, reduce staff stress, and improve the end product. Unfortunately, they won't improve the boss all by themselves.

You speak of disorganization, but that may not be the problem at all. Procrastination, as in Jespa's example, is often misdiagnosed as "disorganization". Is the boss's desk organized? Are his habits predictable (other than getting projects on the stove late)? Is he/she basically a calm person, or always operating on the edge of disaster? Is the boss otherwise competent at managing the job? These all give clues as to whether the manager is disorganized, or if there are other problems that have to be dealt with.

How big is the unit, and what's the span of control? What is the workload normally, and what cycles can be readily predicted throughout the year? How much risk is involved in the work you and your team committed to? What sort of communications system is there at work? How formal are the communications, and is personal initiative encouraged? Is the staff adequate to the job(s) that have to be done? Has the work unit been meeting the expections of management? Of the supervisor? Of the workers in the unit?
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