My lovely team leader is a time waster. Help!

This article first appeared June 30, 2009.

Dear Aunty B,

I have a lovely team leader who gives time to her team and to the clients. The only problem is that her paperwork suffers as a result. Payroll had to hold up processing today as her team’s hours were not in on time. She claimed to be busy talking to multiple clients. I know her problem is that she cannot be brief with conversations and doesn’t know how to end them or move them on.

Our clients often enjoy a good chinwag, but there needs to be a balance. How can I advise her?



Dear VD,

Oh, she has what I call “Silly Boss Syndrome”. Yeah it usually affects bosses but I reckon a lot of managers suffer it too. The problem is this: they focus on the job they like the most and do it really well, but then just ignore other really important bits like sending out invoices on time and making sure people get paid.

People with this syndrome usually end up coming to their senses and hiring people to compensate for their shortcomings or they fail because they are too pig headed to change their ways and realise that OTHER things matter too.

Call her in, sit her down and give it to her straight. Go through her job description and show her that she is falling down in several key areas. Make her see that while she is “busy”, she is preventing other people doing their jobs: like making sure her staff can pay their mortgages this week. Also explain that clients are also busy and she should finish conversations more swiftly so they too can go off and pay their staff.

Give her an illustration that relates to her so she can truly understand the impact she is having. Then get her to see this behaviour is selfish and self-centred (she’ll hate that) and not in her own best interests, as she is not learning skills that will enable her to be promoted to more interesting positions.

Then suggest ways she can change. Set a deadline for a meeting to review the changes and her progress.

Good luck!
Your Aunty B

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