When you get into the office after a long slog through the morning rush hour traffic and hear that your boss is out for the morning, the day or even the week, it can be tempting to breathe a sigh of relief and put your feet up with a cup of coffee. The ‘while the cat’s away, the mice can play’ frame of mind might set in but shake it off immediately because now is your time to step up to the mark and demonstrate what you’re really made of.
When it comes to being boss, they can’t really win. It’s extremely off-putting and distracting when they’re constantly flitting around the office, looking over your shoulder and building on your to-do list like it’s a game of Jenga. However, it’s equally as frustrating when they appear to suffer from a case of chronic absence and spend less time in work than the office Christmas decorations. But as an employee, it’s your job to adapt seamlessly to the various situations you are required to work in if this means cracking on without any senior supervision then so be it.
Rather than using your boss’ absence as an excuse to slack off, see it as a chance to develop your skills and boost your own confidence levels. Stay focused, on target and work just as hard as you would be if they were there breathing mid-morning coffee breath down your neck. Admittedly, this can be challenging when you are forced to rely solely on self-motivation and self-discipline but follow our expert advice on staying productive when your boss goes off the radar and you’ll be off to a flying start.
Set yourself clear goals and stick to them – If your boss is one that chooses to work from home a lot or is often away on business, they should be regularly communicating clear aims and targets with you in between. Whether it’s daily, weekly or monthly, your boss should be touching base to let you know exactly what is it they expect of you because without this direction, it can be difficult to stay motivated. If this isn’t the case, you need to implement a change that will introduce this kind of vital employer-employee communication.
However, on a day-to-day basis you are going to need to rely on your ability to teach yourself, have confidence in your own decisions and be productive without much (or any) oversight. Giving yourself clear, realistic targets and being strict on achieving them is a great way to keep productivity in check when you’re left to your own devices. Understanding the aims, budget restrictions and upcoming deadlines that the business as a whole is working towards will help you devise your own plan of action and personal targets.
Establish a to-do list every morning when you get in and evaluate your performance at the end of the day then record it all in an online calendar or spreadsheet to stay on top form. A sea of Post It notes containing various cryptic reminders will only cause confusion but keeping a digital record means you can also call upon it should your boss want some evidence of your work on their return.
Keep communication tight – When the boss is away, it can be easy to let good habits slip and workforce communication is one of them. However, strong communication is the most important key to successful teamwork so you need to ensure that you do your bit to keep conversation flowing in the absence of a driving force. By ‘conversation’ we don’t mean what you snacked on at midnight last night or the latest reality TV scandal, we mean regular team meetings to discuss what’s been done, what needs doing and who’s doing what.
If regular face-to-face meetings aren’t a possibility for your workforce, and in some cases they won’t be, capitalise on the opportunities open to use via modern technology to ensure team communication stays tip-top instead. From email, video call, voice call, instant message, live chat and text message the possibilities are endless, which means staying in touch with your colleagues is easier than ever – so no excuses!
Don’t make any rash decisions – When faced with this situation, you can go one of two ways. You can cower in the corner until your boss returns and hide from the responsibility, or you can grasp the challenge and really sink your teeth into it. But while the absence of a boss is the perfect time for you to step up to the plate and prove yourself, it’s important that you also accept your limits and know where to draw the line.
While you should see it as extremely complimentary that they feel comfortable and confident enough in you to leave you to your own devices, don’t let the tribute go to your head. Making executive decisions and using your initiative is bound to impress your boss when they return but if you overstep your limits and make inexperienced mistakes in the process, you’ll undo all your hard work. Be confident but don’t be cocky or else risk making unnecessary errors that will only wind up wasting valuable time and energy.
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