TOT Taming Tips: The Absentee Boss

Dear Lynn,
My manager, who is the director of our software support team, has started to check out of her job. She will walk past my desk, and say “I’m going to let you handle support today.” Then, she either goes in her office and surfs the Internet – or just leaves. I do want to take on more responsibilities but not like this. I don’t feel like I can learn or succeed when she ignores me. How can I ask for more help?

Dear Tracey,
It sounds like your boss may have put herself into a private Time Out! Although it feels like the burden is on you, it’s really not. If she’s avoiding work or certain responsibilities, she might be caught up in her own world of escape – which unfortunately is unproductive, not to mention frustrating for you!

Address this problem ASAP, for your sake, and your co-workers and customers’ sakes. Request a meeting with your boss to discuss projects, but plan to discuss the current situation as well. Your calm but concerned tone will send a clear signal to her that you are willing to help. Keep the conversation positive and focus on the fact that you like your job and want to improve at it. Suggest that you have regular meetings at a comfortable interval, so you’re both on the same page.

If you’re at a point where your boss is in “terminal Time Out” and won’t meet with you at all, that’s a different matter altogether. That signals a more serious problem that warrants an appeal for increasingly direct action. Start with e-mail queries, increase your attempts for personal “drop-in” visits to her office, and ultimately, appeal to HR for help. Of course, you’d be wise to update your resume and peruse your favorite job board sites, and pursue other exit options.

Best regards,


Got a TOT? You’re not alone! Dare to share your story at the TOT Blog with other TOT tamers in the making, while Lynn helps you: cope with difficult or childish bosses and office politics, and humanize your workplace™. Post your question for Lynn, and she will try her best to answer it in an upcoming TOT Tamer Advice Column. Be sure to visit the Tame Your TOT site.