Help me help my overtired boss
July 6, 2011 9:22 AM   Subscribe

How can I help my overtired boss

My boss of three years is having an exhausting time - increased responsibilities at work, a partner with ongoing health issues, and a lot of work on. He fell asleep at his desk today - only one person noticed thank goodness, but I worry about him.

It would be inappropriate for me to ask him if he's ok as I feel this would just make him worry about other people noticing. Aside from just being as helpful as I can to him for the forseable, can you think of anything else I can do to make sure he doesn't burn out? He's such a totally awesome boss I want to pay it back.
posted by greenish to Work & Money (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would appreciate if someone would bring me hot tea, healthy lunch, vitamins.
posted by leigh1 at 9:28 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

If there's any of his extra responsibilities that you could do, or at least take the initiative on contributing to ("so, I heard you have the monthly reports to do up now that Sid's out, but I could at least do up an initial draft for you to look over, want me to do that?") I'd also try that. sometimes people who are overtired don't really know how to ask other people to help, and so asking them "is there anything I can do to be helpful" may be less useful than "can I help by doing this specific project".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:31 AM on July 6, 2011

Let your boss know that you are available if he has any additional projects. However, the most important thing you can do is continue to perform your job as well as you possibly can.
posted by WaspEnterprises at 9:33 AM on July 6, 2011

Fruit bowl with easy to eat fruit (i.e. no oranges, mangoes, pineapple). Energy bars. If he doesn't have a favorite kind of energy bar, I would suggest assorted KIND bars.

Make sure his office always has tissues (2- or 3-ply) and his printer is always loaded with paper and toner.

Small fridge with bottles of water and his preferred soft drink.

Lumbar support for the back of his chair. Foot cushion or foot rest for under the desk.

Gel Wristpads for keyboard and mouse.

I used to be an executive assistant and the above is just a quick list off the top of my head. I'm not sure if this is the direction you want to go, though.
posted by spec80 at 9:48 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

The biggest help to him would probably be if all the people reporting into him do as good a job as possible as fast as possible so he can delegate a bit more work to you all thus easing the burden on him.
posted by koahiatamadl at 9:58 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Make it possible/easier for him to work at home. Carry a blackberry so you can respond to requests outside of business hours.
posted by moammargaret at 10:16 AM on July 6, 2011

Keep an eye out for outside responsibilities that will escape his attention, and take care of them or prepare the ground and bring them up at an appropriate time (i.e. not while he is otherwise busy managing the daily emergencies). If he's overstressed and overworked, there's bound to be little things that will get lost in the mayhem.
posted by Dr Dracator at 10:18 AM on July 6, 2011

Not everybody can do this, but be a bit more strategic in your thinking if you can. Like Dr. Dracator says, as he gets more and more burned out, things will get lost in the shuffle. If he knows he can not only rely on you to take care of them, but that you are thinking ahead far enough to take care of stuff beforetime, it will ease his burden considerably.

Here's a hypothetical example. You're taking the minutes at a meeting where the annual report is being discussed. Head honcho, your boss's boss, is in the room, and will need to sign off on the final. There are only a few minor changes. You send word discreetly to a colleague to make the changes and print off the new version. Colleague brings in the document, and you hand it to your boss, who gets head honcho to sign it.

So, there are no delays in getting the document signed, it's one less headache all around for a very small amount of work, and your boss gets to look awesome in front of the head honcho! Boss will relax a little, because he knows you're on top of things.
posted by LN at 10:32 AM on July 6, 2011

You're in a tough place. By default, most people have a hard time stepping back and delegating to save their own sanity. They'd much rather just throw more work at the problem.

The single best thing you can do for your boss is tell him he's got too much on his plate, start farming some stuff out. He'll resist. Fight him on this point - it's for his own good.

(I speak from experience - I tell my boss this all the time, he also doesn't listen)
posted by NoRelationToLea at 10:41 AM on July 6, 2011

You can't be the only one who feels this way. Talk to your co-workers. The bunch of you doing something nice might make a real impression.

On my 40th birthday, I was in a bad way. I thought my relationship was busting up, I'd started a new business 7 hundred miles away from anyone I knew and lived alone in a house devoid of furnishings. I was too busy to notice that the people around me cared.

They threw a crazy surprise party for me at work and it did mean an awful lot to me over the next rough year.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 3:14 PM on July 6, 2011

Thanks everyone - great answers and I plan to put some of these tips into action.
posted by greenish at 6:11 AM on August 15, 2011

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