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  • Writer's pictureGina Greenlee, Author

Sabbatical: How to Get Rid of Your Boss So You Can Do Your Job



Person in ghost costume

In all cases where I employed my situationally tailored strategies, these were individuals who were smart and great contributors but didn’t like managing people. So why did they, in some cases, have half the company reporting to them? They were smart, effective contributors during an era of corporate life when staff responsibility was the only way to justify corporate rung jumps and saucy pay stubs.

 

I didn’t “take them out.” Just eased them away:

  • Sabbatical Sayonara

  • The Jason Bourne

  • The Hot Potato


Woman on computer near ocean

Sabbatical Sayonara

I half left. Several times in 20 years, when budgets needed cutting, middle managers were required to “reapply” for jobs already held. The last time this happened I thought, “I need to be in control of my world. What if I (sorta) leave first?” Quick math helped convinced me I could live on half my salary if I bought fewer toys and worked less so I wouldn’t need as many sparklies to decompress.

 

I proactively approached my boss and told her I wanted to buy back half my time. I slipped her a one-page outline and talked her through how I would remain effective in a 20-hour, 3-day workweek. When her boss announced it, I received several intradepartmental emails that read, “I wish I’d thought of that.”

 

This gave me the breathing space to perform the immersive tasks my projects needed. And four days a week to claim my own was amazing balm for my emotional health (which included writing my third book).

 

After a highly productive six months I returned full-time (at the company’s request). And with a good deal more locus of control, having demonstrated I didn’t require constant monitoring to be successful in the role for which I’d been hired.


Arm with watch

The Jason Bourne

One boss simply wouldn’t show up for our scheduled meetings. Or, if the boss was in office when I arrived, he remained on the phone. At first, this hurt my feelings. Then I thought, “Taking this personally doesn’t serve the project for which I’m being compensated to advance on behalf of the company.” What would serve the project is to invest time in activities where I knew could make a difference, rather than wait around for a consistent no-show.


  • I stopped requesting meetings with the boss.

  • Didn’t bother to check in.

  • Did what I felt best served the project.

  • Six weeks later the boss left a voicemail.

  • He had popped past my desk a few times. I wasn’t there.

  • Would I stop by and see him?

 

Why, certainly. 

 

I arrived at the appointed time. Again, ear suctioned to his phone, he held up an index finger to mime, “give me a minute.” Experience being the consummate teacher it is, I knew the true length of that “minute.” In the best interest of the company I left his office, returned to mine and advanced the project for which I’d been hired. The next day the boss said he “looked for me” after his phone call. The time? A good hour after I had gone home.

 

Soon thereafter and on a regular basis, he started dropping by my office.


Potato with a face

The Hot Potato

My boss, an executive sponsor for a project I led at a different company, was not accessible to me. So, I casually planted the idea of a dotted line reporting relationship to one of his peers (who had an equal if not greater stake in the project I was managing). He leapt like a Labrador after a Frisbee.

 

Everybody wins:

Boss #1: One less body to manage.

 

Boss #2: With a deep stake in the project’s success, he was thrilled to be organizationally closer to the person responsible for managing it.

 

Me: One less person to chase. With a dotted line to a senior stakeholder better suited to manage others (he liked it and availed himself in time and resources), I was better equipped to do the job for which I’d been hired.

 

Voila.

 

I could now resume focusing energies where they were needed most:

  • I had conducted historical internal interviews and erected the first part of my project management infrastructure.

  • Next, I took the immersive time needed – to integrate and document findings – before I presented my operational strategy to the executive team.

 

First, I would run it by my new boss. :o)

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