In my counseling and coaching sessions, this topic is becoming more common. The issue is not a boss who is temporarily disengaged due to a deadline, but a boss who is always disconnected with little involvement with the staff on day-to-day issues no matter what the circumstances are.
*Mary, one of my coaching clients took a rare business trip to meet with an important client and when she returned, her boss never inquired about the trip. A month later, her boss requested a meeting to review her projects and she mentioned that would be a great opportunity to discuss her trip. Once the meeting took place, her boss never asked her about the trip. She decided to let the matter drop and if he was interested in the future, she would be happy to share the experience with him.
Mary and I strategized about other things she could do, given she enjoyed her job and had no plans to seek other employment. Mary decided to build closer alliances with her business partners and her staff. She made it a point to support them and share how their joint efforts were crucial to their work.
Mary works on a small staff and there are no other managers to fill in for her boss. Other staff on her team agree that their boss is uninvolved and that they will work closely together to make sure the job is done well.
Some Other Tips:
Self-Motivation: Remind yourself why you are at the company and the goals at hand. Whenever you start to think of what your boss should be doing, try to re-direct and work on a task for the good of the company.
Communication with Boss: Send brief emails to your boss updating them on your work and any issues that come up. Brief emails will more likely be read.
Keep Perspective: Remember that you do a good job and take pride in your work. Others on staff and clients are happy with your work. Work is just part of your life and hopefully you are supported by your family, friends and community.
Freedom and Autonomy: When a boss is uninvolved, this can give an employee freedom and autonomy to work up a level and put new ideas in place. An uninvolved boss will likely say yes to many suggestions as it would be too much effort to think it through and implement it. You can come up with the plan to make your idea a reality.
Leadership and Visibility: You can become the leader and give direction to staff and projects, given that your boss does not. This is a golden opportunity. If you seek a different job in the future, you can say that you had increased leadership within the company.
We have a tendency to focus on what is missing or “I could do this or that if my boss really cared.” I have outlined the many advantages of having a disinterested boss. I hope you will take advantage of them.
Happy New Year!
Kay Gimmestad, LCSW-C is a business coach and clinician in New York City with 20 years of experience working in the profit and not for profit sectors of Human Resources, Health and Human Services. She has built a reputation for being highly skilled in facilitating behavior change while working with employees, both individually and in groups, on matters relating to performance management, substance abuse, crisis intervention, and stress/wellness.