What's your problem?

by Jeremy Bullmore
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010


Q: My boss is obsessive about timekeeping, presenteeism and deadlines - for everyone except himself. Although he is always ready to have a go at us for slipping up in any way, he never practises what he preaches. As a result, we're all fairly unmotivated to do as he says. Is it worth having a word with him about his apparent inability to follow his own rules, or will I risk ruining our working relationship?

A: Difficult one, this. I suspect that anyone capable of working to such blatant double standards is likely to be an unsatisfactory boss in many other ways as well. He sounds a right prune.

But there's a small wheeze it might be worth trying - and at the very least it avoids a head-to-head confrontation from which you'd be most unlikely to emerge unscathed. With great tidiness and precision, draw a grid on a sheet of A3. Across the top write: Minutes late/Deadlines missed/Hours out of office. Down the left-hand side write all your names alphabetically, including that of your boss. Pin this to your noticeboard and complete it meticulously every day.

One of two things should happen. Either, miraculously, your boss's behaviour improves, or he expresses extreme displeasure. If the latter, you should innocently enquire what it is exactly that displeases him. He will not find this an easy question to answer.

Not entirely risk-free, I grant you; but other than suggest you go looking for a new boss, it's the best I can think of.

Please address your problems to Jeremy Bullmore at: Management Today, 174 Hammersmith Road, London W6 7JP. Or e-mail: management.today@haynet.com Regrettably, no correspondence can be entered into.

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