is it appropriate to want to be told when my manager won’t be in the office?

A reader writes:

I work for a small family business, and my manager is the owners’ daughter.

My office is in one building, and her office is in another, on the same small property. My manager recently let us all know that she will be working from home two days a week (set days). However, on the days when she is on site, she often… isn’t. She goes to the chiropractor, goes to lunch with her family, goes to visit a friend, goes to a business meeting, etc. Most of these off-site activities are outside the range of the typical lunch hour, and may extend beyond the hour, if that’s what they were being used as.

Most of the time, I find out that she is off-site because her car isn’t in the drive, or someone goes to ask her something and she isn’t at her desk, or she responds to an email and the signature is from her iPhone instead of default Outlook, or she mentions something on the side. 99% of the time, it is not communicated that she isn’t on-site.

Am I wrong in wanting to be communicated with as to when she will/not be around? We do a lot of work over the phone and email as her office is in a different building, so reflecting on it, it hasn’t had a major impact on workflow. It’s more (I think!) just a desire to be communicated with and to have her presence in the office. What’s your take?

If her absences from the office were 100% business-related (for instance, if her job kept her outside the office meeting with customers, etc.), would this bother you so much? I’m betting it wouldn’t — you’d just take that as part of the deal with her job and that would be that.

I’m assuming that what’s bothering you here is that it sounds like she’s not working much of the time when she’s away from the office. (And that in turn raises the question of whether she’s really working during the two days that she’s allegedly working from home, since her work ethic doesn’t sound particularly stellar.) And that’s legitimately annoying.

But it’s also not your problem to solve. She’s your manager, rather than the other way around, so this is between her and her own manager.

If it’s impacting your ability to do your job, then by all means you should raise it. But it’s not — it’s just annoying to watch.

It might help to realize that family businesses sometimes serve a dual role: to turn a profit and to provide jobs to family members. If that’s the case here, the owners might be just fine with their daughter operating this way. They might figure she’s covering the stuff that they need covered and they don’t really care if she spends the rest of her time at the chiropractor and having lunch with friends. Or they might care very much — who knows. But it’s their job to assess how she’s spending her time and come to their own conclusions, and ultimately it’s not yours. Your job is to do the work you were hired for. You might be being held to a different standard, yes, but that can be the way of family businesses and it might be the way of this one.

But none of that answers your question: Is it reasonable to want to be told when your manager won’t be in the office? Ideally, yes, it would be great to be in the loop. But if it’s not impacting your work, it’s a nice-to-have, not a must-have. In this case, I’d pay attention to all the signs you are getting about what you can expect from her schedule, and operate on the assumption that she won’t be in reliably … which could then lead to you doing things like scheduling phone calls when you know you’ll need to talk to her, telling her in advance if you’ll need her there in person for a particular project on a particular day, and so forth.

In other words, assume that you’ve been told in broad strokes what you need to know (her presence will be sporadic) and adjust accordingly.

{ 103 comments… read them below }

  1. Chocolate Teapot

    If the Manager is still responding to emails when she is not in the office, that should help. What can be a problem is when you work for a yeti boss.

    1. KC

      Okay, so maybe I’m naive, but what is a “yeti boss?” I Googled the term and Google’s top result for me is “Yeti Boss is a hostile creature found in the Snow World” for a game called Craft the World. The following results are also about video games (maybe Google is customizing the results based on my interests?).

      1. Loose Seal

        This comment made me truly laugh out loud. Probably because when I’m Googling everyday, normal things, I will frequently get my first result to be something related to a WoW website/wiki.

        1. Chocolate Teapot

          Exactly, a boss who is so infrequently available that you might have better luck working for a yeti. At least you know the yeti isn’t going to be around.

  2. Rin

    Can’t the OP just ask the manager to let her know her schedule/share calendars?
    Also, if she were out for 100% business, like Alison asked in the first paragraph, I’d still be annoyed.

      1. veggie

        I would be annoyed, too. It’s just considerate to share your schedule if people might be looking for you. Particularly if it’s the type of boss that says, “stop by this afternoon to chat about xyz project,” rather than scheduling a set time, it’s nice to be able to see when your best chance of catching her is.

        That said, I would be fine if the boss just shared her availability, not what exactly the commitment is. With Outlook, at least, you can share your calendar so that it only shows if you are busy or free (and you can make individual events private even if you’ve shared your calendar with details).

    1. Jen

      I agree. I worked with a manager like this and she just never let us know where she was. I don’t need to know where you are but I need to know if you’re on the clock, in the country, sick or working from home. I wasn’t her secretary but all day long I’d have people stop by saying “Where’s Nancy? Is Nancy in today?” and a small percentage of the time I knew and I could say “Nancy is traveling. She’s been responsive via e-mail.” but the majority of the time I had no idea. She wouldn’t always respond to e-mails or phone messages. It mainly reflected badly on her but it also made the rest of the department look disorganized and uncommunicative.

      1. Calla

        Yep. My bosses have a habit of coming in whenever they want. Which is fine – a benefit of being higher-up, I guess. But they often don’t tell me, and that means I feel clueless when someone asks where they are, and it’s even worse when they have a meeting and I don’t know if they’re just running late or decided to be remote today or what. I’m the admin so it does impact my job directly (and yes, I’ve brought it up, one has gotten better about it), but I can easily understand how it would be annoying for someone who’s not their admin but a frequent point of contact for them or the like.

      2. littlemoose

        I can definitely see that point. The OP doesn’t really say what her job functions are, or whether she needs to explain her manager’s absence to clients/customers. If the latter is the case, then she might want to just ask the manager something like, “When you are unavailable, what should I tell customers who call and ask for you?” or something similar. I’m pretty sure AAM has addressed similar situations before, so a look through the archives might benefit the OP if that is indeed the case.

        1. OP

          We do have some customers that call in for my manager, and if I can’t handle their query, I just transfer them over to my manager’s extension… she checks her voicemail, and it’s normal business hours, so then I feel it’s on her to respond. My manager is generally very responsive via email and phone, so I don’t think this has been a major issue on the customer end of things- just a difference of getting to speak with her right away or having to wait for her to call them back.

    2. AnonHR

      I agree on the shared calendars. I get asked all the time if I know where my boss is and if/when she is coming back, and it’s helpful. I can’t see details, just time blocked off.

      It’s also nice to know if I do have something I need to talk to her about in person whether I should just wait 5 minutes because she’s probably just grabbing coffee, or if I need to contact her another way because she’ll be out all afternoon. Especially in a smaller environment it seems almost silly that she would be MIA without others having a sense of her availability.

      1. OP

        Did you start off with shared calendars? That sounds like a possible work-around. One issue might be that we often schedule to-do items in our calendars, so I imagine we would have to go in and change how we mark things (ie, busy, available, etc).

        This and AAM’s advice about scheduling phone calls will give me more of a sense of control (ie calm). thanks!

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Keep in mind, though, that if you’re proposing a change in how she does things, you’ll need to be able to explain why it’s needed. If you can’t explain why you really need access to her calendar, this won’t make sense.

        2. KC

          Depending on what level of access you have to her calendar, you can see what an item is. They can also (if using Outlook) indicate whether the appointment is “out of the office.”

    3. thenoiseinspace

      I’d only be annoyed if it went against the norm. If you’re expecting someone to be in the office and they don’t show up, that can get annoying. But if you expect them to be constantly out in the field, that annoyance goes away. If I were OP, I’d just mentally re-classify the boss from “expect in office” status to “do not expect in office.” I don’t know if that would help everyone, but it would take the annoyance away for me.

      1. OP

        This is what I will have to do. I think part of my “need to know” mentality is that I come from working in retail for 4 years, where everyone was present and on the clock.

        1. Positivity Boy

          Ah – this context makes things a lot more clear. I dealt with the same thing when I transitioned from retail to an office setting. In retail, you are accountable for your location and availability at all times because you could be needed at any second. It’s hard to get away from that mentality, as well as the mentality that you need your manager to be physically available and ready to assist you, since in retail you could need them to help with a line, deal with an angry customer, do a system override, etc. In an office job where physical presence isn’t necessarily required in order for your manager to help you, just focus on if you’re getting timely responses as needed and if you are, then the rest can be let go, as uncomfortable as that might be.

          1. Jeff A.

            I don’t want to put words into the OP’s mouth, but I suspect that a lot of the discomfort may stem from the reason’s this manager is not in the office and available.

            How do you take the Big Boss seriously when he talks about needing employees to be committed to the success and growth of the business and then permits his daughter to behave like this? Sounds like a recipe for widespread discontent for non-family employees.

            I also suspect that many of the “business meetings” she claims to be attending out of the office could more aptly be categorized as personal retail therapy trips or social hours with friends.

            1. NutellaNutterson

              “I also suspect that many of the “business meetings” she claims to be attending out of the office could more aptly be categorized as personal retail therapy trips or social hours with friends.”

              I don’t know the OP’s line of work, so it might not apply here, but the opposite can also be true. A lot of business happens away from a conference room. If it’s a matter of building relationships with people, what looks like “a long lunch with a friend” from the outside can be a vital aspect of a job and make or break a business.

              1. Jeff A.

                Very true.

                But this is also why I fall on the side of those advocating for transparency from the manager rather than those that are recommending the “keep your head down and don’t get involved” approach.

                Small businesses especially have so much more to gain than they risk in disseminating information both up and down the chain of command. When you only have 3 or 12 or 30 employees, it hurts a whole lot more if 1 or 2 managers aren’t performing than if you’re 1 manager of 300.

      2. tcookson

        This. When my current boss first replaced my former boss, I expected him to be in the office unless he was out of town (as Old Boss had been). Turns out, he’s the kind of guy who’s only in the office if he has a specific reason to be there. When he’s not in the office, he could be anywhere (at his private practice, at the barber, schmoozing with other local bigwigs over coffee/lunch, etc.).

        Soon after he started as my boss, I mentally reclassified him from “expect in office” to “do not expect in office” and have learned to just work around the way he works. Other people who have not made that mental reclassification are still stuck being annoyed that he’s not in the office (and not because they have any real need for him to be there; it’s just the annoyance for them of seeing someone else not being in the office).

  3. Kay

    I think I would still be annoyed if it were work related (and in my current role I do end up annoyed) because my boss and other co-workers don’t always let me know when they’re going to be out. Since part of my role is to cover phones, I look silly if I transfer a client up to someone’s office and they’re gone for the day and just didn’t tell me.

    OP- While frustrating, it may just be part of the job. However, as long as it’s not part of your job to know her location (ie- when customers call asking where she is, you are expected to have an answer) then I would say you kind of have to suck it up and deal with it. I’m learning to and it’s a struggle for me, so you’re not alone…

    1. Jamie

      It’s just common courtesy to let the people on phones know if you’re out – I’m totally with you on this.

      I get so annoyed on behalf of the receptionist when she’s trying to find someone and keeps paging just for someone to happen by and say so and so left an hour ago.

      Perfect example of when it does impact the job.

      1. some1

        When I was a receptionist, this bothered me, but the worst were the coworkers who didn’t bother to let you know they ordered food and the delivery person didn’t have a name.

        1. Observer

          That’s just stupid. How do these people expect their food to get to them?

          I can just imagine the blowback if our receptionist ever paged “whoever ordered for please come to the front”.

  4. Mena

    Your job is to get your job done and it sounds like this person not physically being present isn’t standing in your way of productivity.

    So, this isn’t your concern.

    1. OP

      True words- I think I need to have this as my mantra. It isn’t my concern, so I shouldn’t make it my concern.

  5. Zena Thomas

    This advice is right on. if its not effecting how you do your job or accomplishing your goals, I would leave it be. You may not agree with her work ethic but I dont think its necessary for her to check in and out with you. Its just annoying.

  6. Jamie

    I’ll add to the chorus – if it’s not interfering with your job it’s not a problem. If it’s not impacting you why does it matter?

  7. Cat

    This is why I could never work for a family business; this would drive me absolutely bonkers. I realize it’s irrational, but yet.

      1. Fiona

        I would qualify that to say that a family business is only a good place to work if it’s run like a business. I worked in the family business for a number of years and my sister still does, and neither of us were offered or tried to claim special privileges as the daughters of the boss. If anything, we are/were held to a higher standard.

        1. Mike C.

          The last job I had (that one) was like this. My boss told me about arguing over the need to spend money on equipment during Thanksgiving dinner. Ugh.

      2. some1

        I don’t know about that, either. My grandma was born into a succesful family business. Her brothers are literally millionaires and she and her sisters never got a dime from the business.

        In another family business three brothers bought out the fourth (because how do you fire your brother??) and family realtions have been strained ever since.

      3. Daria

        Truth. My husband’s family owns a business, and that’s exactly what I figured after seeing the dynamic for about 10 seconds.

      4. Annie The Mouse

        Truer word were never spoken. I’ve been laid off twice from family businesses when a nephew and a cousin needed a job.

      1. Cat

        Yeah, and to be fair, I might well be okay with it if it wasn’t one of the “aiming to provide jobs for family members” ones. Fundamentally, I think I feel like I need to be in a place where I could work my way up, and if that’s precluded by top jobs being all about family, that’d be a problem for me.

        1. Julie

          As I was reading your comment, I thought you were going to say that you needed to be in a place where most people have at least some sort of a work ethic – probably because that’s how I feel. :) Plus, I’m already at a job where there’s nowhere to “move up” to, so I know I’ll need to look elsewhere when I’m ready to move to the next level.

          1. Cat

            I feel that way too, but I guess my bigger concern is that I need to know management will deal with people without work ethics regardless of who they’re related to. So it’s a constellation of things.

        2. Nonprofit Office Manager

          Knowing myself, I think I’d also be constantly judging the children of family business owners for accepting jobs from their parents in the first place. I know, family legacy, yadda yadda, but still.

          1. Chinook

            Speaking as a 39 year-old child who spent part of her (unpaid) Christmas cvacation working for the family business (retail the week before Christmas. And on Boxing Day *shudder*), don’t be too quick to judge. We may be doing a favour for a parent because we have a skill they lack (I helped set up their first computerized inventory system) or, if we weren’t there, they couldn’t justify hiring someone else for the position (if they could even find someone). We may or may not be paid in real cash (sometimes in meals and goodwill as well as buying stuff at cost). Just like there are numerous reasons to work in a regular company, there are numerous reasons to work for family.

            FTR – everyone has worked for my mom at some point. She even had her 2 y.o. Grandaughter sorting hangers!

            1. Jamie

              Moms though, if not cash do they pay in food? Because with my mom that would totally have worked for me.

            2. JustMe

              I would second that. I’m non-family in a family business and I’ve seen the owner’s kids get both extra privileges and extra work.

              I’m wondering, though…does anybody have a happy family business story? I’m sure there are some that are well run, but some days I wonder if they are the white whales of the working world…

              1. Fiona

                I think its safe to say that neither my sister or I would have stayed as long as we have if we weren’t happy with our situations. And most of her other employees have also been with her for years, so I’m pretty sure shes doing it right. :)

          2. TL

            It can be a big deal to have someone take over the family business – my parents own one and though I don’t think any of us are planning to take it over (and thank god they’d never care) it is kind of heartbreaking to think of them selling off 3+ decades’ worth of work.

            So if one of us wanted to move home and work for them until they were ready to take it over, I don’t think that would speak ill of me or my siblings.

            1. Jamie

              I don’t think so at all. There is nothing wrong with your life’s work building on your family business.

              Mars candy is a family business…and they bring us M&Ms. Wal-Mart is a family business and so is Comcast.

              A lot of businesses are 3, 4, 5+ generations because people picked up the torch and carried it on.

              I don’t think people should be coerced into working there for life if they don’t want to, but certainly no shame in taking the opportunity if you want it.

    1. OP

      There are pluses and minuses. My previous position was at a very corporate multi-national retailer, and working for this small family business has been a big change. It’s awesome to see the owners all the time, working on the business, and having a real say in the decisions that get made. It’s not as awesome when gray areas like this come up.

      1. Jeff A.

        I can sympathize, OP. I spent the first 8 years of my career working for a small, family owned and operated business. I’ve since had two other positions in more “corporate” environments, and one of the things I greatly miss is having the ear of the Big Boss. Even when he didn’t go with whatever scenario I might have been suggesting, I could at least have the consolation that I had an audience to make my case.

        Unfortunately, I also knew all too well the disruptive work environment that family businesses can create for the non-family employees. And while I agree with Alison that a necessary way to cope is to adjust your attitude and expectations, I don’t think this is sustainable long term. When you and other non-family members have rolled up your sleeves and put in your Nth consecutive week of OT/late nights/weekends to make the business successful in spite of how it’s being run, it’s going to be demoralizing when the owner’s daughter is allowed to behave like this. You can’t help but lose respect for her as a manager. And it’s hard to give your best when you don’t respect those calling the shots in positions above you. What’s the line in Office Space? “It’ll only make someone work just hard enough not to get fired”

        If this is typical of how this business is run, it’s only going to make you feel worse as time goes by. The more you’ve invested your hard work and time into a business like this the more you’ll feel slighted when those putting in less effort are rewarded by virtue of the fact that they’re related to the right people.

        Just my 2 cents.

      2. Jamie

        I agree with this – I work for a well run family business and can honestly say that all the family members working here…the business is lucky to have them as they could all be successful elsewhere.

        I’ve certainly worked at others where that was not the case.

        There is something to what Cat says about a ceiling, but in my industry in an SMB there is only so far you can go anyway until you get to owner.

        On the plus side it is cool to have a real voice in fundamental decisions and just sit down for a chat with the owner about what you need or new ideas without layers of bureaucracy. I can get a large yearly budget approved over lunch – last time I was at a corporate job it took me 6 weeks for my requisition for a stapler to come through.

        But more corporate environments have a formality and structure I kind of miss sometimes. Overall I wouldn’t trade – but there’s good and bad to everything.

        The one thing you have to get used to when working at a family business, the great and the awful, is just accepting that there are relationships and dynamics you won’t fully understand. And you’ll never have the same kind of access as non-family members do, because you’re not sitting around discussing business over Thanksgiving or Christmas with them.

        But I grant you, a badly run family business is a spiders nest I wouldn’t touch. If you have to be in a horribly dysfunctional workplace you want as level a playing field as possible…where no one’s DNA matches too closely.

        1. Cat

          The other thing probably influencing my perspective here is that I currently work for a small partnership rather than a corporation – those can be insanely dysfunctional too, but in this case, it combines the benefits you’re talking about of getting the Big Bosses’ ears and avoiding bureaucracy with the advantage that line workers who do a good job can become partners eventually. (But that isn’t true for non-attorney (in our case) staff, so that benefit doesn’t apply for everyone.)

          1. Loquaciousaych

            I own and run a business with my husband. It is definitely a “family business”. We have always HOPED that one of our kids would take it over someday, but we’re prepared for the idea that it might not happen that way.

            The comment about access sort of got me thinking. There’s two sides to that comment. No, our employees (other than our son) don’t come over for Christmas or Thanksgiving; but they also don’t hear our personal fights over (whatever). Until our son moved out, he heard everything and it was tough for him to hold us in respect at times.

            As far as “no where to go”; it’s true for everyone that works for us. There’s ONE manager (also the owner/my husband) and really not any room for more. Our son would LIKE to be an assistant manager, but we’re not creating that position and certainly not doing it just for him.

  8. HR lady

    As a manager, I can say that I do try very hard to let my employees know when I won’t be in the office. And that includes long meetings, or if I have a day full of meetings. This is important in my job because my department and I work closely together. And, frankly, I require them to tell me when they’ll be late or leaving early, so I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t reciprocate.

    I can imagine that in some jobs/departments it wouldn’t matter so much. OP, like others have said, the focus is on how much it affects you, and what kinds of workarounds you can use.

  9. Just a Reader

    I guess I don’t see why it matters if the manager is responsive and the work is getting done. The beauty of many workplaces today is that you can work effectively from anywhere.

    As for HOW the manager is spending her time, it’s really not a productive thing to worry about. Maybe she’s slacking, maybe she’s not, but OP should really just be heads down knocking out his/her own work.

    In my last management role, I remember getting a light bulb about what my boss had done all day when she was in my shoes. You know, when I thought she wasn’t working.

    1. Char

      I agreed with you. I’d the experience that you mentioned. Sometimes people may seem not to be working but probably because they can’t (e.g. waiting for people to get back to them).

      I don’t really think it’s nccessary to know whether the manager is doing the working if nothing is in the way (especially since she’s the daughter of the owner). However, the OP mentioned that sometimes people need to ask her things and she’s not around, and this might delay work progress. Perhaps there should be a form of communication tool that allow people to reach her/ her to people via their own desks so people don’t have to walk to her building. I think tools like same time on lotus note would be a good tool since it tells people whether she’s in and allows people to ask her stuff easily.

  10. Erica B

    My boss is RARELY at our work. Some time he is working in the field, sometimes he is at home doing god knows what. So I feel your pain. My small team of colleagues and I all have this understanding* that you are lucky if you catch him for the 15 mins in which he shows up for**. If you are looking for him and he’s not in, we ask if “he’s put in his 15 yet today”. He is almost always available by phone or email if needed but its frustrating to deal with if you would like to speak with him in person. Another frustrating thing about this is that he’ll be here and you think ” oh good, I can ask him that thing” and you turn a way for a split second and he leaves for the day without saying bye or ANYTHING. Just leaves, and we stand there saying. “but we weren’t done talking with you…”

    at the end of the day, its not critical that we don’t have him around. Frustrating? Absolutely. Do we make jokes about it? All the time.

    * and by “understanding” I mean “jokes”
    **if we’re lucky. Sometimes he doesn’t come in at all without telling us, or comes in briefly and leaves before we are in for the day.

    1. JM

      Sounds like my boss. Everyone always asks me because I have access to our group calendar, but sometimes he doesn’t stick to that. Except we actually do need him around for specific tasks.

  11. Tami Too

    As my father used to say “You worry about you.” If it’s not your job to know where your boss is, and it is not interfering with your work, it’s isn’t your business where she is or what she is doing.

    1. Elysian

      My marching band called it “Clean your own house.” You don’t go around cleaning other peoples’ houses – especially if your house isn’t as clean as it could be.

      Now that I’ve typed it out I realize it was a weird saying. But that’s what we said.

  12. Mike C.

    I’ve always felt that managers should be chipped and traceable like family pets, but that’s more due to the size of my workplace than anything else.

      1. Cath@VWXYNot?

        I’ve always said we need GPS implants. And a giant screen in reception showing everyone’s current location.

        I used to sit right outside my boss’s office, in a seat that on most other floors of the building belongs to the office occupant’s assistant (not my role). He was rarely in his office, and I fielded a LOT of requests about his location. On my final day in that job, I put a sign on my desk that said “No, I do not know where [boss] is”. He thought it was hilarious :D

        OP, I get that it can be annoying. But personally, as long as someone’s answering their email, they could be on Mars and I wouldn’t mind. The people who are in their offices but don’t answer emails, on the other hand…

        1. Jamie

          You know in some offices that would lead to screen shots with time stamps showing how long people were in the bathroom.

          1. Cath@VWXYNot?

            Heh – given that I’m in academic science, it wouldn’t be long before someone created some graphs for that, plus how many times people visit the coffee shop and any correlation with grant deadlines, whether two people going to the coffee shop together correlates with coauthorship on published papers, etc. The possibilities are endless!

    1. Cat

      As someone in a smaller place, I’ve always felt like they should be required to wear bells like cats so they can’t sneak up behind you!

    2. ryn

      oh god, we joke about this all the time. like, we go to look for the boss and he’s never where we think we put him last.

      1. Chinook

        Has BlackBerry come up with a version to track the phone attached to the manager and, if so, why aren’t receptionists shown this trick right after being taught how to use the switchboard?

    3. Kelly L.

      I used to threaten to put GPS dots on everybody, and barring that. keep a magic 8 ball on my desk for when people asked me where other people were.

  13. AmyNYC

    My office has the opposite problem – everyone email about EVERYTHING. Mass email if you’re running late, have a doctors appointment, taking a late lunch, running out for coffee…
    One woman is particularly overzealous, she’ll email the whole office when she’s at a meeting on a different floor. Then email an hour later when she’s back at her desk!

    1. Mena

      TMI!!!

      I laugh to myself when the entire group gets the email explaining the personal problem that necessitates being out of the office for a day. Please, only tell your immediate supervisor and anyone that was expecting or needing to see you that day. Don’t tell the rest of us!!

  14. hamster

    My boss has also a different schedule.Somteims he comes at his desk late ( maybe he’s in a meeting or smth, or just not at work), stays on later than me sometimes, sometimes not. Sometimes he sees me working late and checks if there’s an issue, and that’s nice. Sometimes i’m super busy and he comes to my back and wants a meeting about something right now, cause if we don’t do it now it’s never gonna happen/etc. However, it never bothered me much.
    I had a boss once where she shared the calendar with all the team/we all did.Not just appointments. But blocks of time ( as in from 1-8 i ll be doing this then that) . And she was a pain to work with. I don’t take being off and about as an issue. Setting goals. following up . making you the most successful and useful you possible , those are the marks of a good manager.

  15. The Other Dawn

    Although it might not affect productivity, I do find it annoying when people don’t let me know that they’ll be out of the office. I don’t necessarily care where they are, but at least let me know you won’t be around in the event I have a question or someone is looking for you.

  16. Erin

    I’m baffled by the number of questions that seem to be about someone being annoyed that someone else is working less/slacking off more, even though there is zero impact on the person asking the question. I felt like there was the same vibe from the person who wrote in earlier about the boss who watches porn and surfs the web. I see that watching porn can create a weird work environment that would impact someone, but it seemed like the LW was also bothered by the boss surfing the web while being paid $65k. If someone else’s slacking is leaving extra work for you, or if you’re the boss and your employee is slacking, then you should be concerned about it. But otherwise, why on earth would you spend so much energy and angst worrying about what other people are doing?

    1. Jeff A.

      Erin, I suspect that a lot of people get upset when their coworkers and managers slack off or otherwise misbehave, even when it doesn’t directly effect other people’s workloads, is because we take pride in not only the work we ourselves produce, but in the company as a whole.

      If you had a cousin or sibling who was struggling and not living up to her potential, wouldn’t it bother you to some extent? If you were on a sports team where one teammate never hustled or contributed, but the coach continued to give her playing time, wouldn’t you be a little put off?

      For a lot of us, we want to know that not only is there value in what we produce as individuals, but that we can feel a sense of pride knowing that we’re on a team that has similar values and work ethic.

      1. Jeff A.

        Frankly, I’m a little shocked about how many people out there feel that this “I’m just going to look out for me” mentality is perfectly acceptable. Turning a blind eye to this behavior makes you complicit in its widespread prevalence. Not shocking that more than half the workforce is dissatisfied or disengaged on the job.

        1. Erin

          If a relative were struggling and wanted to do better, I would want to help because it was someone I loved. But if they weren’t interested in help or didn’t want to improve, it wouldn’t bother me. (Believe me, this describes all of my siblings and cousins. I love them. We enjoy spending holidays together. But I don’t see how their career success or failure impacts me beyond me wanting the people I love to be happy. If they’re happily slacking, so what?)

          I do see that morale can be affected if people feel like their workplace is one where there isn’t a drive to excellence. But so often these questions sound more like children who are mad that someone else got an extra cookie. I think it’s because often it’s less about whether the person is actually producing quality output (because the LW has no way of knowing) and more about appearances. What if worker A needs to put in a full 8 hours of dedicated work to produce X while worker B can do X in 6 hours? What if worker B needs two hours of down time and web surfing to recharge and produces better quality work in 6 hours than A produces in 8?

    2. Mints

      I think that, really broadly, people like to believe in a just world. When you see someone who doesn’t work hard, doesn’t seem very smart or skilled or anything else, and they make much much more money than you, it feels unjust. And while it’s true that higher level work can look deceptively easy, there are plenty of lazy high level workers. You can find that unfair and annoying, even if your own work is unaffected

  17. MR

    Yeah, this is the perils of working for a family business, especially if you are not part of the family.

    But like in any business, unless it’s hampering your ability to do your job, all you can do is suck it up and realize it’s a condition of the job.

    All you can do is forward requests/phone calls/information/whatever to your boss and let her handle it. It’s out of your hands at that point and if it becomes an issue, then it’s up to the owners to handle it however they see fit.

    If this continues to bother you, it may be time to put your resume together and start looking for a new job.

  18. Jessica

    I used to have a manager who was like this – but it wasn’t even a family business! We had a three person department and she’d spend all day lunching with friends and taking her college age daughters to doctors’ appointment, while the other two of us did all of the work. I guess it didn’t really affect our ability to do our jobs, but it sure created resentment.

  19. Joey

    It might help if you start assuming she’s not going to be there and let it be a pleasant surprise when she is. I know its grating to see leaders who play hard while they preach work hard, but that’s the nature of a lot of small businesses. They’re usually the same ones driving around a fat Benz while you’re struggling to make ends meet. It’s disheartening to see that how hard you work doesn’t always matter.

  20. KayDay

    I think it’s reasonable to be annoyed, but it also isn’t the hill to die on. I would say speak to the boss once saying it would be helpful if they could give you a better idea of their schedule/when they are in the office.

    All but one of my managers have always given me some sort of heads up regarding when the will be in the office–both for personal (have to take kid to doctor, be in a 11:30) or business (have a meeting at XXX from 2-4pm). At least for my jobs, there were so many times when I would unexpectedly (or at least not predictable more than a few hours in advance) need their signature/approval/opinion/answer/etc in order to complete my tasks. But beyond that, in the context of my work environments at least, it was a just a little bit rude not to mention it. I would definitely be taken aback if my boss disappeared with no warning regularly. BUT, although I might be annoyed, it wouldn’t be the-biggest-problem-EVERR.

  21. Anonsie

    I wouldn’t assume an email sent from a phone indicates she’s off on some errand, either. A lot of the folks I work with send email from their phones while they are at work, just not directly in front of their computer.

    My supervisors are never around so they have a shared Outlook calendar with everyone so we know if they’re available and, if not, where they are so we can catch them afterwards.

    1. Anonymous

      My boss is at work 24/7 (not kidding, I really don’t think she leaves) and all of her emails come from her iphone. The autocorrect in them can be pretty funny.

  22. SomebodyElse'sProblem

    at a former workplace, we loved it when the boss’s wife/Office manager stayed at home, otherwise she brought her child to work with her and we got to be reprimanded with a 4 year old looking on. It was even more wonderful when the whole family loaded up the cars and went to their other home, out of state, for a week…never long enough!

    1. Anonymous

      She brought the kid to work everyday? I would last about thirty seconds in a place like that before I ran screaming for the door.

  23. Jeanne

    I hated this about my boss. If he had vacation he would tell us. If he was sick or had meetings in another building, we never knew anything. People would ask me and I would have to say I couldn’t help since he did not let me know if he would be in at any time during the day.

  24. Emm

    This doesn’t sound like the OP’s problem, but speaking generally: you don’t know when a manager has been working all weekend or late the night before, so it’s only fair for her to come in late or leave early, and she doesn’t always have to let everyone know what she is doing or where she is. That’s part of the prerogative of being the boss. Other level positions have to report when they are not going to be there, but they probably also leave at 5 and don’t think about work until the next day. There’s a trade off and different rules for different positions. So unless it’s a major deal such that it’s seriously affecting work or clients, just chill out and stop monitoring your boss’s hours.

  25. S

    My manager at my last job made it his business to know everything about everybody, yet he did not share his schedule or plans with most of his direct reports! This used to make me crazy!!!! Especially when I was left all alone to lock up the office when I was expecting someone else to be there with me (we had multiple suites with a warehouse and all the doors had to be checked and locked before setting the alarm).
    I have changed since I started reading AAM! These type of workplace stuff don’t bother me anymore. I am so happy that I found AAM and I work at a different company with 60+ employees (I don’t have to lock the doors anymore).

  26. 2 cents

    I think it shows a lack of respect for your team when you don’t give them a heads up to your schedule and/or availability, regardless if you are the manager or individual contributer. As my dad would say, communicating these basic details is called “servicing your job.” A manager not communicating these basics is especially aggrevating when your boss expects that communication from you but doesn’t return it. Personnally, I find it to be a critical skill for a manager to posess, and if they do not find it important to keep their own team informed of a basic I will be in or out of the office, late in the morning, longer than expected lunch, leave early for an appointment, etc. then I would probably re-think their overall effectiveness and ability to lead.

  27. EvilQueenRegina

    At my last job we were always told to give some idea of how long a person was likely to be out when people called – the reasoning being that if we said “Wakeen is going to be out of the office all day”, this would stop the same person from ringing back six times for Wakeen and getting more and more irate that he wasn’t there. If we were vague, they’d probably keep on doing it, and no, it didn’t look very good. I did cringe though when one admin kept telling members of the public “I’ve no idea where Wakeen is, he never tells us anything, it’s not good enough, not like we need to know or anything” – while there was some truth in that I didn’t think it was very professional to be saying that to everyone.

  28. Katy

    We have the same issue at our office. After I inquired about it, they implemented a calendar that we are all supposed to use so we can keep track of when people will be out but the boss forgets to update her information so it basically does nothing.

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