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Handling a Boss Who Doesn't Plan Meetings

Ask Savvy: Handling Boss That Never Lets Me Prepare

Reader IronMaiden shared this question in our Ask Savvy group.

Dear Savvy,
I have been working at a great marketing firm that allows me amazing autonomy and creativity for two years. I adore it and get along well with me direct boss, who has showed me the ropes and is really supportive. The office and projects are run at super speed and though I can keep up, I often find myself stumbling to get everything done (and I work insane hours!). I am happy to do it, but feel like I keep getting plowed over. My boss rushes me into unplanned brainstorm sessions and even pitch meetings at least three times a week. She'll come by my desk randomly and say "can we chat quick about x client?" and expect me to be ready to deliver all elements I have been working on, and the genius idea that makes the campaign. I appreciate the responsibility and faith she puts in me, but I need more time to prepare better work. How do I tell her the office culture and her last minute meetings are impeding my productivity, or at least the quality of my work, without sounding like a novice?

To see my advice, and offer your own,


Dear IronMaiden,
It sounds like you have an amazing work ethic and are doing a great job. The fact that your boss approaches you constantly for brainstorm sessions and support means she relies on you and understands your capabilities and smarts. That being said, unpreparedness is one of my big career no-nos and if you can remedy this pattern with your boss you should. You will come off as even more organized and be a better worker for it. I suggest you set up a meeting with her (ha!), or mention in one of these fire drill meetings, that you have a goal to improve your productivity and big picture planning for projects and would like to put a standard check in meeting or report on the calendar weekly or bi-weekly to go through current projects with her. Be frank: Tell her you'd like to be able to present more organized ideas and feedback when you meet or in an email and that you worry unscheduled meetings don't allow you to properly share your efforts. She should hear you loud and clear.
Best of luck!

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Join The Conversation
pearsbeary pearsbeary 7 years
well said skigurl! i agree that you should be prepared for the unexpected since you already know that's her's also a good way to stay apprised of your own tasks when you constantly prepare for her updates a standing bi/weekly meeting is beneficial as it would be scheduled time to hammer out big issues regularly
skigurl skigurl 7 years
I'm not so sure I agree with the advice. If you anticipate she will be asking you about your key files (as they are your key files and eventually assume she will want an update) then prepare updates on an ongoing basis so you're ready. If this is her style, this is her style, and by saying something you MAY run the risk of looking like a novice, as you said. Perhaps I agree with setting up a standing meeting with her, and you can give a good rationale for wanting to do that, but in terms of telling her not to run by your office with ad hoc meeting requests, well you can't really do that without looking like you're undermining her authority and changing the way she does business. Just prepare ahead of time. Expect the unexpected, especially since it doesn't seem to be unexpected!
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