So your boss is never around when you need them. On the odd occasion it’s not much of a problem, but when it occurs frequently it may not only be highly frustrating, but a barrier to progress! So how are you going to manage it? Yep, that’s right, I’m asking YOU how YOU are going to manage this situation.

Let’s look at why your boss is frequently absent…

  1. They are out and about meeting with current and potential clients, building the business, and getting results!
  2. A short term project is demanding the majority of their attention
  3. Health and/or personal issues are taking priority
  4. They’re pretty useless at their job and not really invested in their role or the company

Broadly speaking, there are positive and negative reasons that may be the cause of your superior’s absence. Obviously some you can forgive while others are simply unacceptable. Yet even if you are feeling abandoned and frustrated, you need to find a way to manage the situation so that everything continues to move in a forward motion.

Let’s analyse the boss that is always out, winning new business. They’re probably keeping you in a job. But if you are frustrated by their absence, it’s likely because you rely on them to make decisions relative to your role. Am I right? You need someone to authorise activities so that you may achieve the responsibilities of your role. Ok. Here’s a tip or two on how to handle this scenario. Firstly, I’m going to assume that your boss is remotely connected to the business’ systems, through emails, phone calls and text messages they can see and respond to via their mobile and laptop. Despite the distance, you can get the answers you need if you utilise these tools to your advantage. Face to face communications are not necessary for a decision to be made. And if you’re in need of a signature, arrange for approval to use a digital copy of their autograph on correspondence items. Simple, hey? Secondly, you need to be prepared for when the boss is in the office. You can arrange a dedicated time each week where the two of you meet face-to-face and discuss all the important issues, current and pending. A pretty good strategy if you can both stick to it, particularly as you are both focused on achieving an outcome.

Let’s look at the boss who is frequently out and failing to convert leads. This is definitely not your problem alone, rather the business has a problem and in an ideal world the powers that be will take care of the issue – hopefully by recruiting someone more suitable and successful in the role. But what if everyone turns a blind eye? This is when things get really frustrating. You can take a number of actions; throw your hands in the air and find a new job, divert the decision making to someone of equal authority to your boss, or make the decisions yourself. If you choose the latter, ideally it will be off the back of having conversed with your boss (or his/her superiors) and discussed, and agreed, on how you should respond to each likely scenario; In this instance, make decision A; In that instance, make decision B. This may not seem like an ideal scenario, however it does allow you to develop and grow beyond your role, standing you in good stead to raise your hand for a promotion when the opportune time arises. It also raises a pertinent question; If my responsibilities increase, so too should my salary?

The more forgivable situations that cause managers to be more absent than present are those associated with short term projects outside their normal duties, or a serious and unexpected illness or personal matter. In the instance where the absence is likely to be temporary, another person within the organisation may be nominated to act in your boss’ role, until such time everything returns to normal. We all have to make adjustment from time to time, and if you can be supportive of a short term change, the transition will be far smoother.

Let’s suppose for a moment that in your role you were always going to have to manage the absenteeism of your boss. It brings to the fore the reasons why you were deemed most suited to the role. Clearly you demonstrated in your interview that you were someone with great initiative, that you could effectively operate autonomously and make good decisions while meeting the responsibilities of your role in a timely manner. The abilities you exhibited in your interview and through your references proved you to be capable to manage the pressures associated with an absent boss. So rather than sigh in despair, you should give yourself a pat on the back. Not all people can successfully work in such an environment.

Clearly there are strategies you can invoke that lessen the problems around a frequently absent manager. Clearly too, if you haven’t already realised, there could be some professional advantages to be realised. The results may come down to how you choose to approach the situation; do you give up? Or do you have a go?

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