Q: My boss is likeable, but extremely disorganized. I’m her assistant and often have to resolve last-minute crises because of her lack of planning. Other managers have even blamed me for the late completion of projects. Your advice, please!
A: You have every right to be frustrated, although I would guess you feel appreciated by your boss who, no doubt, is very dependent on you.
She is a almost certainly a social person and her spontaneous nature, while pleasant, is making it difficult for you to do your job. It must be especially irritating to be blamed by others for her organizational incompetence.
The current situation has emerged incrementally and you now increasingly find yourself assuming responsibilities that were not part of your original position description.
You know you are enabling her, but it will be a challenge to extricate yourself from the current situation. Her reliance on you may be bordering on dependency, yet she is probably quite happy with the arrangement.
I sense, too, that you have also been protecting her, even defending her to some extent. While laudable, the fact managers have blamed you for her negligence would indicate she is deluding her colleagues.
She is also fully aware of your skills and, while complementary to her own, they are effectively being exploited to serve her own ends; in short, she is apparently taking advantage of you.
You have two options available.
The first option is to pursue a transfer to another department for a position with similar responsibilities. A promotion may also be a possibility at this time.
Your second option — which would be more difficult to achieve — is to speak with your boss about the matter. She won’t be surprised, but she also won’t be happy to receive your concerns. In fact, she might even become emotional.
Arrange to meet with her — perhaps over lunch or coffee off-site — and present the issues as they relate to the good of the company. Arguments that are seen to be self-serving will be less persuasive.
Avoid criticizing her and stress the positive if at all possible.
Select a specific subject that could represent the larger problem and illustrate how it is contributing negatively to the success of the department.
While she may initially be annoyed with your presentation, she’ll be impressed with your sincerity and will want to do the right thing.
Allow her the opportunity to respond within, say, a week, and you may be pleased to discover that she is taking greater responsibility for her managerial deficits.
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