Back To Career News

When the Boss Is a Workaholic


What’s worse than a boss who doesn’t do anything? A boss who works so much, it makes his reports feel like they’re slackers if they leave before dinnertime.


(Photo Credit: Alan Cleaver/Flickr)

Of course, as Sue Shellenbarger points out at The Wall Street Journal, a lot depends on whether your boss is expecting you to put in the same kind of hours — or even tracking your hours at all:

Do You Know What You're Worth?

“Bosses are often taken aback by employees’ focus on their schedules. Betty Enyonam Kumahor often works 14-hour days, emailing and calling contacts around the world. ‘My teams started tracking how many hours they thought I slept each night, based on my email ‘send’ times,’ says Ms. Kumahor, a regional managing director in Atlanta for ThoughtWorks, a software-development company. ‘They asked me jokingly, ‘Do you ever sleep?’ ‘ She assured employees she would stop sending so many late-night and early-morning emails so they didn’t have to extend their hours to respond.”

Communication Is Everything

But what if you don’t work for Kumahor or a similarly less clock-focused manager? The key is still communication. If your boss expresses displeasure with your schedule, try to get to the bottom of what’s bothering him. It might be that you or your team aren’t getting things done, or it might be that he fears you couldn’t possibly be meeting deadlines, if you’re out the door and down the Brontosaurus tail at 5 on the dot, like Fred Flintstone.

Discussing your progress and his expectations will help reassure him that you’re taking your job seriously and getting things done — or clue you in, if there’s something you’ve overlooked.

Finally, and unfortunately, in some industries, face-time is just expected. Whether or not your boss believes that a butt in a chair is the same as a completed report in his inbox, he might have people above him on the ladder who want to see everyone’s smiling face hovering over a keyboard in the actual office during certain hours. But you won’t know that until you have the conversation.

Tell Us What You Think

Have you ever worked for a workaholic? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
Read more from Jen

Leave a Reply

Notify of
What Am I Worth?

What your skills are worth in the job market is constantly changing.