Supporting the boss is a standard part of the admin’s job description, but what happens when doing so requires covering for a boss who is frequently late, forgetful or not available?
That’s what one reader asked recently on the Admin Pro Forum:
“My boss is notorious for running late for meetings, being out of touch when he’s working at home and forgetting about appointments, so it falls to me sometimes to make an excuse. What can I say in these situations when I’m a lousy liar but I don’t want to make my otherwise good boss seem like a mess?” — Frazzled, San Mateo, Calif.
Making the boss look good is part of everyone’s job, and sometimes that includes covering for them, says Katie Donovan of Equal Pay Negotiations. “Occasionally covering for a good boss is fine, such as sitting in on a forgotten meeting and saying your boss unexpectedly could not attend,” she says. But constantly covering for a bad boss means you should have his job.
“Get less proficient at covering and start networking with your boss’s,” Donovan says. “You’ll get the promotion when it’s realized how bad the person is.”
Try addressing the issue delicately but directly with your boss, says Elene Cafasso of Enerpace. “Ask what she would like you to say, and make sure she knows how the other party responds.” She suggests approaching your boss and saying something like: “I’m really concerned about you. Your professional reputation is taking a beating on this and I’m running out of excuses that are believable as a cover. How can I help you (be on time for a meeting; get the report to your boss’s boss on time, and so on)?”
It’s a different matter entirely if you’re being asked to cover for anything illegal, immoral or in violation of the firm’s code of conduct, Cafasso says. In that case, your job is on the line and you need to report it to the proper authorities.