Feeling the pressure

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Many Irish store managers now find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place - they must cut staff and wages while maintaining standards. Barry Whelan reports.



13 April 2010

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jobsMany managers are feeling frustrated and some burnt out by having to meet the demands of retailing, with fewer staff and less resources as companies try to cut costs to stay profitable during the recession. Everywhere you look, staff hours are under scrutiny with zero overtime and in some cases, leavers not being replaced. Inevitably this is affecting management morale and performance.

Some have even stopped caring- your boss winces at work related questions, goes home early or even turns up late- is this management, when the manager has given up?

This can frustrate employees who wait for decisions to be made, encounter excessive mood swings and feel like they are in a workplace limbo.

Here are some tips for those trying to cope with a boss who’s given up:

What’s going on?

Try to determine why your supervisor shows little interest in work. Is it a personal issue that is causing mood swings or more likely, that something more serious is going on with his or her job? Some bosses lose interest because they’re being pushed out, while others get so fed up that they can’t put any more energy into their work.

Try to find out what is going on discreetly – your boss’ attitude to his/her superiors will give a lot away.


Lack of motivation or a detached/distracted boss spreads easily through a work force, the foremost style of management is leading by example and if the example is poor, so will the performance of the staff be. A disinterested boss is a dangerous thing and indifference is contagious.

While you may resent this behaviour, gossiping to other employees will not help. Step up to the mark and look for added responsibility to improve the situation, look for opportunities to step in and help.

Although you don’t want to look like you are usurping your superior, a burned out boss will be more than happy to delegate more responsibilities. Volunteer for some, it will help your boss and will make you look good.

Take action

If things are getting out of hand and the lack of leadership by the Boss is putting your job or the company at risk, more assertive action should be taken.

At one company, five senior team members approached their boss directly over the issues they had. They admired the ability and work their boss had done in the past, but felt his lack of motivation was leading to issues with the viability of the overall business. They asked the boss to step down.

If you do go above your boss’ head, he or she will likely get angry or upset, and may become even more difficult to work with.
The situation needs to be weighed up wisely and if your boss’ lack of motivation is due to staff cuts and his/her superior, then talking to your boss directly will be more productive then their superiors.

If you don’t feel like complaining, try to find a mentor within the company. He or she may be able to serve as a quasi-manager, providing you with guidance that you’re missing from your boss — and possibly some ways to deal with the situation.

Of course the best solution may be to move jobs. If your boss is spending more time playing solitaire on their PC, chances are your personal development programme is gathering dust!

Though always remember, even if you’ve got an absentee boss, you can still find a way to get ahead.



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