“You committed to this time a week ago”, he shouted, “If only you had told me earlier you were no longer available I could have rescheduled this, but now what am I going to do. The customer is expecting you to be there. I am going to speak to your boss.”
The engineer involved, stormed off equally aggrieved. “I wish you would talk to my boss. I have far too much to do and it’s not my fault if something else comes up that I have to attend to,” he complained.
Arguments like this go on in most of the places I have worked, and from what I hear from others, seem to go on in other professions, as diverse as teaching, nursing or even in charities. People struggle with ever increasing demands, linked to ever decreasing staff levels. Usually it is the boss that is blamed. The root cause is seen as being understaffed, and the boss is the person that is blamed for not hiring the extra people. The problem is the boss is constrained by finances and cannot just hire additional staff. In the past, a supervisory boss would have planned the workload and allocated the staff to the appropriate workload. Today, front line staff are expected to manage their own workload. They are supposed to plan their time and communicate with their multiple internal and external customers what can, and cannot, be done. They also are expected to proactively communicate if their priorities have changed – in essence, they are expected to be their own boss. The problem is no-one tells them the game has changed - or, if they are told, they haven’t yet learnt how to be a boss!
So the next time someone tells you their boss is driving them crazy – give them a mirror!