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Time management - The boss

The boss


It is hard to refuse work arriving from senior management. Of course you could refine your skills in the art of saying, ‘No’.
This is not always an easy option.

You may have a boss that expects you to take on everything thrown at you. Of course, your boss may see this as efficient delegation on his / her part but fails to take into account your workload and experiences.
There are ways in which you can influence the situation.

Being proactive

If the saying ‘no’ technique fails you may wish to pre-empt unwarranted work coming your way.
Some of this work may be quite trivial in nature and may well not be covered by your job description.
If this is happening discuss the matter with your boss and point out that you want to do a good job and need to focus on your job description.
From this you can clarify and agree specific objectives.
Hopefully, you will be fully employed doing these. In order to minimise other tasks interrupting your core activities ask your boss how much time he would want you to spend on other tasks.

If you have no objectives be proactive and get some. If possible link these to your personal goals.
Produce your own and then discuss them with your boss until you have both agreed them.
Don’t forget to set personal training and development objectives and consider these for your team.


When the boss asks you to do jobs that you don’t want to do remind him / her of the core tasks that you are working on at the moment. Ask the boss about your priorities and how much time should be spent on it. If all else fails, you may have to try to delegate it. If so, make sure it is someone who will produce the product on time or you will likely miss your own deadline. Monitor the situation.

Time v results

If your boss judges your standard by whether you work late or not then beware. You will need to try to get out of this trap.
You should be judged upon results. This means that if your Time Management is effective and you go home on time your boss may see this in a negative light.

Of course, some areas of work will necessitate late working, for example, laboratory work regularly requires monitoring at all hours.
There are no magic ways to reduce this pressure to work late hours.
The only effective method is to chat with your boss and point out, in a polite way, that you have a life outside which is being compromised.
Also, you will have measurable targets on which you will be judged at the end of the year, this should be good enough.

Working late does not set a good example and boost morale, it usually does just the opposite.

Delegation and responsibility

As a method of increasing your experience and showing that you can handle more responsibility you could ask your boss for extra delegated tasks.
This approach may not be for the faint hearted.
If you do this you must have regular meetings for monitoring purposes with your boss, make sure the tasks are clear and written down if possible.
In addition, you may wish to gain responsibility in a particular area to show off your abilities.
You can accomplish this gradually by taking on responsibility at one level, showing your competence here, then increasing the level of responsibility.

These techniques may give your boss more confidence in you and reduce interference from over monitoring of your activities.


These are covered in more detail elsewhere (see ‘meetings 1’ and ‘meetings 2’) and the comments apply equally for meetings with your boss.


Usually, for many people, there will be a year end appraisal against targets.
This is an opportunity to seek constructive criticism of your performance.
If you detect any problems ahead of the appraisal try to sort them out as soon as possible.

Whether you are being appraised or you are the appraiser a ‘thank you’ for your contribution or that of your team member is very good for motivation.

This is a good opportunity to be involved with what’s going on. You could do this at any time. Ask your boss to keep you up to date with information.
This could be projects, budgets etc. This will help you feel involved and improve motivation. You could try to be part of regular update meeting.

You might want to be involved in strategic decision making meetings either actively or as an observer.
Don’t wait until this meeting to raise training needs. These should be identified as they arise.

Non - PRINCE2 information