To best describe this particular Boss from Hell, I’ll quote from an email I received:
“I have a great boss. The one problem I have with her is that she quite often misses our meetings. She keeps meetings with everyone else, but she seems very comfortable continually postponing meetings (with me), or just not showing up until a considerable time later… Quite often I can’t proceed forward with a project without her input so my work is held up.”
It’s interesting – and not coincidental – that virtually everyone who wrote in describing a boss like this also described her or him as being an otherwise “great” person to work for.
This is a boss who is often exceptionally busy – juggling a number of projects, and trying desperately to keep all the balls in the air. She knows that, with all of the things she’s doing, she’s likely to drop one or two. She needs a “go-to” person – someone she can trust – to pick up the pieces when this happens. That’s you. If you have a boss like this, and if you think about it; one of the things you like the most about her, in fact, is that she generally trusts you and your judgment. She’s not missing meetings with you because she doesn’t respect you. Quite the opposite. She believes that of all the people she works with, you’ll understand, and will be able to cope with it.
Armed with this assumption, here’s a strategy you might want to try:
Be assertive. Think of yourself as the nurse who barges into the hospital room to give a patient their medicine. Catch her alone, and walk in with your biggest smile. Make sure you have all the material you need with you and say “I need you for xx minutes to answer some questions on this project – then I’ll be out of your hair, I promise.” Don’t take no for an answer. You may be very surprised at how positively she’ll respond.