Time might heal all wounds, but it certainly doesn’t solve all business problems. In the working world, most of us are at the mercy of the clock: punching in, lunch hours, time cards and so on. Early in our careers we are trained to be as efficient as possible, cramming our hours to be multi-tasked to the max. One lesson seldom taught in the power of inefficiency. I’ve already talked about how the ‘experts’ waste time at work. Today we’re going to look at clock stoppers. These are bosses who know how to get your projects stuck in quicksand, and in the process, stop you in your tracks – or at least slow you down to a tortoise’s crawl.
Here’s how they do it…
DROWNING IN PAPERWORK. Paper has power. It can make things move forward or grind them to a halt. Usually, the more of it there is, the longer the delay. Any boss worth his/her salt knows the best way to get an employee off their back is to ask them to produce more paper. It could be a memo that gets rewritten to death or a request to provide backing documentation for every move you wish to make. This busy work will keep you at bay, spinning your wheels for days…weeks…months…
WARNING SIGNS. Your desk is filled with folders and binders. Yet, when it’s time for your annual review, you realize you’ve accomplished nothing.
UNAPPROACHABLE. Looking busy at work is an art form. If your boss wants to get you off his/her back he’ll make himself scarce. And when you do see him, he’ll be harried as hell. You’ll begin to doubt yourself and worry that you will be bothering him with your needs. He clearly has bigger fish to fry, right? In lieu of being the “busy” boss, your fearless leader might take the “dick” approach. This is where he makes you feel stupid and/or small when you ask him something.
WARNING SIGNS. You make excuses to avoid asking your boss anything.
YES, AND I’M SORRY. Human nature has us longing to hear the word ‘yes.’ Yes to a date. Yes to a marriage proposal. Yes to that long-awaited promotion. But what happens when yes is just an empty three-letter word? Let’s say you ask your boss for something and he says ‘yes.’ A few days go by and you check in for a status update. You’re met with a terse response, ‘give it some time.’ How many times before you stop asking? If your boss knows you’ll eventually give up (he’s banking on it), he’ll opt for this approach. Sorry is a get out of jail free card that ends all conversations.
WARNING SIGNS. “Yes” and ‘I’m sorry”
TALK TO DEATH. If your boss wants you to stop asking about X or Y, he/she might constantly bring it up. It’s sort of like a supervisor’s filibuster. The goal here is to agitate you to the point that you drop the topic altogether. Since this move requires work on the boss’s part, it’s only used in extreme cases.
WARNING SIGNS. Your boss does all of the talking and you squirm quietly in your chair.
PLEASE RE-PRIORITIZE. Since your boss controls what you work on on a day-to-day basis, one of the easiest moves he can make is to give you a project that is ‘more pressing’ than the item you’re asking about. Before you know it, that project that was once a priority, is sitting on the bottom of the heap.
WARNING SIGNS. Urgency turns to silence.
There are plenty of other stall tactics that bosses employ. What have you experienced? Let us know if you’re stuck in quicksand and we’ll send the Jobacle rescue crew!