The Management Technique of Absenteeism

Absenteeism is a great strategy for the laissez-faire manager who would rather not be bothered with the details. If abstaining from all direct participation with your underlings sounds like a great idea to you, you should try absenteeism as a management strategy.

No involvement is good involvement, right?

Well, that is true if you’re an absentee manager. A good absentee leader can focus on not focusing on managing their employees. He can justify certain actions that exhibit his elitism. He attends the fanciest catered social events, heavily delegates his own tasks out, and takes credit for work done by people he manages brilliantly.

If you are an employee, then this is great news for you! Mostly.

The absentee manager is thrilled with your work — or at least the fact that you are doing work somewhere else, quietly — even though he will never let you know. He gives decent yearly reviews praising your good performance. He’s happy as long as you make him look good to his peers and uppers. Other than that, he’s not at all interested in what you are doing.

Absenteeism, though, has a bad side. This is where some employees get desperate for some attention, and they mess up something beautiful.

Whatever you, do not try to get your absentee manager involved in anything.

Otherwise, you will feel his wrath. You will get blamed for every bad thing. You will suddenly realize his attention isn’t that great after all!

The absentee manager will not attend your status meetings. He will not actively help you with your group’s annual presentation. He will not return your calls or emails, and he most definitely will not come to your wedding.

So if this is your manager, don’t expect to see him until the semi-annual All Hands meetings. Don’t wait for your phone to ring. As long as you don’t yearn for any direct communication with him whatsoever, you should be fine!

W. Albert Jameson, IV

PS — I began describing this just for your benefit, aspiring leaders, but I’m beginning to like the sound of it. Maybe I should take a break from nanomanagement

On the other hand…
Absenteeism is very damaging. Managers like this are terribly abusive in their silence. You will do well to remember no one can read your mind, and most people are try to do what is expected of them. Your team members cannot help you achieve your goals or improve their work without your timely and specific feedback.
  • Learning to Follow the Absent