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How to Deal with a Workaholic Boss

Frantic activity at work does not always imply a direction, goal, or purpose beyond the obsession itself. Resist the temptation to take on your boss's addiction to work -- as long as you do your job, they'll respect you for it.


  • Step 1: Give and lose Give up time and peace of mind to outwork the boss if you have a workaholic mentality yourself. This strategy is not likely to earn you appreciation, however -- you'll most likely get used more now that the boss has found a fellow work addict.
  • Step 2: Highlight work done Be disciplined and get your work done efficiently. When talking to your employer, emphasize the work you accomplish over the hours spent there. Refuse to let your boss equate those 2 factors.
  • TIP: You may have to get human resources involved if the boss is getting out of hand.
  • Step 3: Set boundaries Set boundaries. Demonstrate your loyalty to the company in other ways, but don't feel you have to keep your boss' hours.
  • Step 4: Anticipate trouble Anticipate trouble from a pushy workaholic boss and get in the habit of sending regular e-mail progress reports before they ask. Keep them busy with your e-mail updates, and you can have some room and peace as you work.
  • Step 5: Ask about personal life Ask about the boss's children and family life during moments of conversation between tasks. Get to know them and attempt to find out what makes them relax.
  • TIP: Remember that nothing you try may work in either changing them or lightening your load. The next step may be a change of jobs.
  • Step 6: Get a life Get a life, even if the boss won't. Leave the job at the office so you can remain fresh and attentive with your family, recharge the batteries, and approach the next week refreshed. Don't answer calls or e-mails over the weekend -- keep your work at work!
  • FACT: The Japanese term for dying from overwork is karoshi, the first case of which was reported in 1969 when a 29-year-old died from a stroke.

You Will Need

  • Personal discipline
  • Negotiating skills
  • Anticipation
  • Genuine concern
  • Your own life

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