Hello everyone;

I wanted to get some feedback from the MT community regarding how to "manage" a boss who gives directions and then changes everything they want once it is submitted. I find this frustrating (and recently I calculated using my Drucker Analysis that I spent over 20 hours in two weeks on a single Powerpoint presentation that only took 2-3 hours to initially create). I know you can't "manage" a boss but is there any way that anyone has found to cut down on the rework that I suffer from?

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge


Don't try to manage your boss.


CalKen's picture


I completely agree that one should not try to "manage" their boss. Is there anything that you could recommend where I could proactively cut down on the rework, or is it something I just have to accept? Thanks very much for your inputs in this matter.

ktnbs's picture


Don't try to manage your boss.


Nothing productive to add to this thread other than the tactile and visual stimuli of this axiom that I need to keep on point in my head.

US41's picture

[quote="CalKen"]I wanted to get some feedback from the MT community regarding how to "manage" a boss who gives directions and then changes everything they want once it is submitted. I find this frustrating ...[/quote]

Sounds like you have a boss who is very creative and has a hard time letting go of the possible improvements that could be made in order to have *something* done to deliver by a deadline and move on to other things.

I have worked for someone like this before. My folks work for someone like this now. You might even be one of my directs from the way this reads.


* Tell your boss that she does this
* Tell your directs that she does this
* Focus on this behavior and obsess over it
* Forget you are being paid for your time, regardless of how it is spent


* Bring your boss options to choose from
* Learn to anticipate possible changes and different directions any assignment could go in.
* Help your creative boss with planning and analysis - creative types are usually seen as flip-floppers who have a hard time nailing down a schedule and committing to anything. You can shore that up.
* Be patient with your boss - over time trust builds and you will better predict what she wants

Tamtam10000's picture

I struggle with this sort of situation too, and US41's words are very helpful.

One thing that I have to work at (and that I think may also help you), is not trying to get anything 'finished' before showing it to your boss. We could save ourselves a lot of time by roughing out a presentation or project plan to discuss with the boss first. They will then tell us what bits to go ahead with and what to change before we spend lots of time on getting it 'right'.

However, I can forsee a problem with this in that we could be seen as the kinds of people who 'can't make decisions independently' or 'can't work on their own' or 'can't take responsibility for projects', and that's not who I want to be.

Does anyone have any thoughts on that?


oparatte's picture

I have a similar "creative" boss.

At first I got quite frustrated with the constant change of directions, if any clear one to start from. I tried to anticipate them but it was difficult to do.

So I started presenting "drafts" projects at rather early stage to avoid spending to much time on something that would change. I also tried to review the projects often (1-2 weeks) for the same reasons.

Eventually I was told, during my annual review, that I lacked autonomy... I have the impression it's a no win situation.

US41's picture

I won't respond to anyone in particular - just to the direction the thread is taking. Yes, no matter what you do, there is the possibility that it will not be interpreted the way you prefer. Yes, you might have a boss that criticizes you when you come with options and criticizes you when you come with finalized decisions and then changes their mind.

Some important points:

* You can't control your boss.
* No matter the approach you take, there is risk
* Taking risks is part of being higher up the food chain
* Don't try to be perfect - you will fail
* Don't obsess about not making a mistake or disappointing - you will die from a heart attack induced by stress

One final really important point:

* No tips or tricks you learn here will help you with a bad boss beyond the networking, resume, recruiters, and how to resign podcasts combined with the interviewing series.

Sometimes you can't win, and that's too bad. You have to deal with it or leave. I know it sounds harsh, but bosses don't accept feedback very well and our options are limited if we wish to preserve our employment and our good reference for our next job.

Great managers will learn what NOT to do with their folks and chalk it up to training, then propel themselves to a new situation.

tcomeau's picture
Training Badge

[quote="CalKen"]... I know you can't "manage" a boss but is there any way that anyone has found to cut down on the rework that I suffer from?[/quote]


It can actually be worse. When we put together "options", we either weren't converging on a single solution, or we weren't considering all the options. We managed once to hear both criticisms in the same meeting. The guy who called the boss on that behavior no longer works with us. (His choice, but he didn't outlast the Bad Boss.)

Toward the end, before the Bad Boss was "reassigned" we actually had a weekly meeting that we called the "goalpost meeting": We presented what we thought was the solution, and then saw the goalposts move. And they did, every week.

We tried, six of us, as a real team, to change the Bad Boss, and we failed utterly. We never made a bit of sustainable progress, and we broke our hearts trying.


Tamtam10000's picture


Well, I don't have a bad boss, I have a really good boss, although the 'creativity' can get frustrating.

So, I'll just keep on going as I am and see what happens.

Good luck, CalKen!