What assumptions about the value of your time and his time are implicit in the boss’s behavior?

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Primary Topic—Time Management and Personal Effectiveness

Additional Topics—Authority; General Management Practice; Leadership

You are the business office manager at Community Hospital. At 9:00 am your boss, the controller, called you into his office for, as he put it—“a little chit-chat, 10 minutes or so, on where we stand on getting the new procedure manuals done.” You scooped up the proper papers and went into his office, bracing yourself because you knew how frustrating these sessions could be.

After you entered and sat down, the controller shuffled through the clutter on his desk looking for a particular document. At the same time he found the document he also found a pink telephone message slip apparently left over from the previous day. He said, “Oh-oh, should have done this yesterday. Excuse me just a minute. Sit tight.”

The “minute” turned out to be a quarter of an hour as he transacted a bit of busi- ness and engaged in some social conversation. You fidgeted, wondering as you did at such times whether you should get up and leave and return when he was free.

You were perhaps 5 minutes underway with the true subject of your meeting when the telephone rang. Your boss answered it himself, although his secretary was in her usual place. This time it was fully 10 minutes before you could return to the subject of the meeting. Before you concluded your business, your boss had taken two more calls and made a brief additional call for something that he had “just remembered.”

When at last you were finished to the boss’s satisfaction, you rose to leave. He rose also, reaching for his empty coffee mug. On the way out of his office he glanced at his watch and said, “Wow, 10:00 already. Time sure flies.”

You made no comment. You were well aware that the pile of work on your desk had gotten no smaller while you were tied up for a full hour trying to accomplish about 10 minutes’ worth of true work.


1. What assumptions about the value of your time and his time are implicit in the boss’s behavior?

2. What can you possibly do or attempt to do to encourage your boss to show more respect for your working time?

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