Tips to Help if Struggling With an Unorganized Boss

Michele Warg
Posted by in Administrative & Clerical Services

For an ultra-organized administrative professional, an unorganized boss can be a nightmare. The constant disorder from a superior can upset your system and impact your productivity. If your scattered boss is causing problems at the office, there is hope — with the right coping strategies, you can manage the situation, reduce bottlenecks and maintain your sanity.

Identify Unique Quirks and Develop Solutions

Each unorganized boss is different; spend time observing your boss and analyzing his patterns. Determine exactly where he goes off the rails, then come up with ways to cope. If your boss has trouble keeping track of files and emails, for example, try keeping a backup copy of everything on your own computer. Alternatively, create a system that helps bring order to chaos: manage the physical files yourself, put up a labeled key rack for each person's car keys or set up alerts on your boss's digital calendar. If you notice that your boss's failure to think through projects causes a frantic deadline rush, anticipate the potential pitfalls in advance and plan for emergencies. Bring up the issues in project meetings, and ask for specific solutions. Standardize the project management process by creating forms and checklists that gently force your boss to plan ahead.

Force Communication

One of the hallmarks of an unorganized boss is poor communication. Avoid the frustration of unanswered emails by scheduling regular in-person meetings. During each session, ask specific questions to get the information you need. Let your boss know that you want to wait while he searches for the information; by staying in the room, you provide the impetus for immediate action. If your boss struggles to keep track of emails and texts, these short, personal meetings can head off hours of frustration for both parties. Keep in mind that some bosses do better with written requests. In that case, outline tasks and questions in writing, and send a print and email copy. No matter which method you choose, be as specific as possible to make it easier for your boss to take action.

Vent Appropriately

Venting is a crucial part of dealing with an unorganized boss — it helps you manage stress and avoid outbursts. Chances are, you're not alone in your frustration. Build a support network of colleagues who understand your struggle. When things get particularly bad, grab one of them to go out for coffee and have a discussion. Together, try to find the humor in the situation; having someone to laugh with can reduce stress and make it easier to go into the office.

Be Honest

Organization is crucial for an administrative professional; if your unorganized boss is making it impossible for you to do your job, it's time for a face-to-face discussion. Explain calmly how your boss's actions are sabotaging productivity and causing stress, and make specific requests for change. Be prepared for the ramifications of this conversation, however, and embark on it only if you're prepared to look for a new job if the situation does not change.

Dealing with an unorganized boss can be mentally taxing. By analyzing the solution and creating thoughtful solutions, you can keep a great job without damaging professional relationships.

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