My Idiot Boss


Do you ever feel like you have more work to do then time to do it in? I am sure you have had a time in the last week or month in which your boss gave you more than you could possibly finish in a normal amount of time. What do you do? Work more hours? Multitask? Stall for more time. Or perhaps you fail to complete the work all together or you do just a good enough job to make do? Even worse it stresses you out, makes you resent your boss, hate your job and probably affects your family life.

Ever wonder why your boss gives you so much work? You probably have some theories. Your boss is an idiot. Your boss does not know how to do the job. Your boss is lazy. Your boss is too busy sucking up to clients or their boss to do any real work. To be honest it is probably a mixture of all these things. Now, your boss is probably not an idiot but I can understand employees’ general consensus of that fact. Your boss, like you, does not know how to do everything and they are constantly put in situations where they have to learn on the job. That often comes off looking like the boss is clueless. There are tasks and job assignments that never appear to lead to anything. You spend countless hours working on reports and research that never gets used; basically a big waste of your time and energy.

It was one of the many reasons I hated working for a corporation, but now I have come to realize that it is a necessary part of the job. The unnecessary part of the job is the lack of communication and teamwork. How many people work for a company that proclaims to be all about team work? How often is that teamwork applied only to you and your coworkers and not your bosses or even your boss’ boss? I know my coworkers probably feel differently but as the boss I try my best to let my coworkers know I am doing something new and am not sure of a) what I am looking for in the results and b) I am not sure how to go about doing what I am trying to do. I know I do not always share that and sometimes my coworkers may forget because of how long it is taking to figure things out but it is new and I have an idea of how something should work or look. I cannot know how it is going to work until I see it or have it in front of me. Sometimes it works and I get a report, a process or whatever that we will use. Most of the time it ends up being something we do not really need or use or sometimes the idea was good in concept but not good on paper.  For those that work in the corporate world these ideas could come from the CEO, VP or a Director. The number of layers that the work needs to go through to get done has a lot of hands and reputations involved in it. Everyone wants to take the work done and but their own marks on it to make it standout to their boss. At least that is how it usually comes across. This may hold some truth to it but usually it is a product of knowing your audience and reducing the amount of information provided.

A simple example: a boss asks how does Facebook impact the ROI of the company’s investment in social media. When this assignment gets into the hands of the person who actually has to answer the question, they research tons of indicators, like number of friends, likes, comments, number of visitors to the website came from Facebook, how many Facebook friends or users buy the company’s products or services. They may include information about all other sources of social media investments and their impact on the ROI. They also may look to compare the ROI to competitors or at least their investment in social media. This makes for an amazing report, with tons of great information. It took hours of work done by many people but it missed the mark a bit. The boss only wanted to know the impact of their investment on the ROI. The boss’s employees gave them that and a whole lot more. The boss may have been perfectly happy with the following: Facebook impact on the social media investment is 75%.

As the boss, co-worker and employee, I do my best to communicate the goal of work I am requesting others to do. It does not always work out in the end or make sense to everyone but it is often times a learning experience for me. Sometimes I need to know others can do the work I do in case I need them to step in for me. On occasion I make a mistake and waste everyone’s time. Next time your boss asks you to do an assignment and it is not clear why, it may be worth asking the question, what is the goal of this assignment.