Ask Matt: What can I do about my workaholic boss?

  • Article by: MATT KRUMRIE
  • Updated: March 17, 2014 - 10:53 AM

Dear Matt: I love my job, but my boss is a workaholic and I feel like I’m never doing enough or working long enough. What should I do?

Matt says: Kathy Kacher, President and founder of Career/Life Alliance Services, Inc. (clalliance.com), a Burnsville-based company dedicated to the development and integration of work-life initiatives, was working with a Fortune 500 client when a member of the team mentioned how his manager regularly e-mails him at 10 p.m. The employer asked Kacher: Should I also be responding at that time of night?

“I always encourage employees to just ask,” says Kacher. “Many employees fall into the trap of perceiving what is expected of them instead of asking what is expected of them. In this case the manager who was sending e-mails at 10 p.m. was a bit of a night owl and did her best work when the house was quiet and she was away from the buzz of the office. When the employee asked about her expectations she clarified that she never expected him to respond at that hour and she was very glad that he had asked.”

What your manager is really looking for is someone who is dedicated and hardworking, but the perception is that coming in early and staying late are signs of those traits, says Jody Thompson, co-creator (along with Cali Ressler) of the DIY ROWE System, a set of resources that work together to provide the basic foundational mind-set shift, tools and strategies necessary for a team or organization to begin the process of building a Results-Only Work Environment (gorowe.com/diy).

“You can begin changing that perception by having direct, objective conversations with your boss about the actual work you are accomplishing and the results of that work,” says Thompson. But if you find yourself stuck with a 20th century hall monitor who watches the clock and your every move, follow these steps, says Thompson:

• Avoid conversations about what time you came in, what time you are leaving or how many hours you are working. Direct the conversation back to the work that’s getting done.

• Talk about how you’re going to keep your boss informed of your progress along the way.

• Talk about how you’d like to approach any challenges, and how you’d like to utilize your boss for coaching and feedback if necessary.

In some cases a workaholic boss might be dealing with a micromanaging superior, and that trickles down to you. What they really want to see is results ­— work getting done on time and in a quality manner.

“You’ll be amazed at how confident you’ll feel when you talk about what you’re accomplishing, instead of talking about things that frankly don’t matter,” says Thompson. “Managers who lead engaged, empowered and results-focused workforces manage the work, not the people. They are results coaches.”

Contact Matt at jobslink@startribune.com.

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