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My boss is too busy

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Question: I work for a boss who’s so busy, I feel like I never get to speak with him unless I walk (or sprint) down the hall with him on the way to his next meeting. We do occasionally meet one on one, but his travel and meeting schedules are so jam-packed that we haven’t been able to set up anything regular.

His interpersonal skills aren’t the greatest; he may not be comfortable in one-on-one meetings.

On top of the fact that this makes it difficult to do my job sometimes, I’m worried about my career. How can he know that I’m doing a good job unless he’s around to hear about it?

Does anyone have advice for working around a boss’s unavailability?  -- Anonymous


I used to never meet with my boss either. We now have a weekly 30 minute meeting where she goes over notes from her meeting with her boss and I tell what is taking up my time or special projects I'm working on. I also give her a weekly status report that she can put in my file. She references these reports when it is time for my yearly review, so she has concrete items to put in my review besides "she is doing a good job". I also keep a copy of this and refer to it when I have to give her my yearly "kudos for myself" report for my annual review (we have to share how we have promoted or fulfilled our company's corporate values). When she is traveling she has access to email about half the time and if it's something I really need to ask her but it's not pressing I just send her an email and she answers it as she has time. I hope this will help you, especially if what you say about your boss not being good with 1on1 time - he might appreciate the written report. I just type everything in excel by what I do for each person I support. Some things are constant - like appointments and invoices, then I have a space for special or ongoing projects and I give a weekly status.

I also have a boss that's very busy. In my eyes, we are here to support them so they can do their job. Believe me when I say he knows you are doing a good job. If you weren't, he knows he could not be out of the office as much as he is. He can be gone and know that things are getting handled. Think of it as flattery, not a bad career obstacle. If you were not doing your job or you were doing it badly, then he would here about it. Be flattered he trusts you so he can be out of the office doing his job. In this day, micromanageing and watching every move is out and independence is everything. Keep doing what your doing. Your fine.

How about doing a daily or weekly status report via email? This is what I had to do for the first 6 months of this year. My boss had moved to an office 5 hours away, so meetings in person were not an option. I did an email to let him know where I stood on projects I'd been working on and to ask him any questions. He was able to read it and respond when it was convenient (usually in between meetings). It worked out quite well and when I left the company, he gave me a very favorable reference.

I am in a similar situation. One of the attorneys I work for travels a lot, and on top of it, we work in separate buildings. His clients are in one building, however, the Legal Department is in the building across the street. Because I am also the Administrative Support Coordinator for the Legal team I work for, it is necessary for me to be with the Legal team. During my performance review about a year ago, he asked me if there was anything he could do to make my job better or easier. We communicate mostly by email, and I mentioned because we work in separate buildings and because of his travel schedule, that I felt disconnected and asked if there was a way we could talk more face to face. Since we both have to eat, we set up a lunch meeting for every other Thursday, where we review some of the key cases he is working on, projects that I am working on, deadlines, etc. so we know what is on each other's plates and his priorities, as well as what is going on in my Admin Coordinator role and those priorities. It doesn't always work out, because he is sometimes traveling on the day of our scheduled meetings, but it has helped tremendously and we do talk face to face much more than we used to. It helps us to align and sync up and has made a huge difference in our working relationship. Since everyone has to eat, this might be something you could try.

Our company recently hired a new Executive Vice President. I am the Assistant to the EVP. After 5.5 years with the last EVP, I find myself growing and being challenged with new responsibilities in working with the new EVP. He and I meet one on one every Monday at 3 p.m. He requests tasks of me, gives me new projects to handle and I update him on where I am on the projects given to me and inquire about issues that only he can answer. Had I been permitted to work in an environment like this with my previous EVP, I would have been more productive, felt more connected and there would not have been so much disruption in my day. This is a method that I highly recommend. We schedule our one on one mtgs on the appt calendar for the whole year. It works well because it is handled like an appt because it is. My boss had a mtg out of the building the other day on our scheduled mtg day. He was running late because of traffic from an accident. He called me to inform me of his late arrival for our meeting and gave apologies. That made me realize how much he respects our time, just like he does with a client, vendor, member, etc. Try it, you might be surprised how helpful it can be.

Good Morning!

I would document everythng I do on a daily basis and put in a report format for his information, relative to the employee evaluation format. Communicate regularly via email. Try to schedule lunch with him once a week regardless of his interpersonal skills. Try to find out why his interpersonal skills are the way they are, if possible. Who is his boss and what are they like. Is he married and with family. If you have access to his calendar analysis it to clues, arrive early as possible to try to catch him, schedule meetings to meet him early in the morning one day a week no matter how early it may mean or how late. I don't know what your experience has been with HR but are they for the employee or the employer? Who use to work for him before you maybe they may be able to shead some light on things for you, have lunch with them and asked them how they handled certain tasks for him. If you are at the point of concern about your career, document and move on, don't wait. If you hang around get your education while you are there.

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