Work Interruptions (from the Boss!)

DBE Series 9

How can I convince my boss to stop interrupting me?

Being the boss and working for a boss gives excellent perspective here. First, know that your boss or the company’s owner, like you, has a million things running through his or her mind. 

Sometimes you might not see the whole picture as they do. And so when your boss interrupts you, it’s because they need you. They need your help to get this information out of their head to trust you with it, and they can then run onto the next worry or crisis in their head.  

That being said, interruptions are still rude. Let’s talk about ways you can minimize those interruptions.  

  1. Have a 10-minute morning meeting.

Tell them what your plans are for the day, ask critical questions, and have them tell you their plans for the day. Every day keep checking in like this so that you’re not having to chase them down or wait for their responses.  

2. Designate a space in your office – an inbox – that your boss can drop off paperwork to. Instead of talking to you about it, have them write a small note or talk about that paperwork during your 7 AM meeting.  

3. Initiate a leave me alone time. I’ve had clients who have experienced a lot of success with my red/green signs. When it’s leave me alone time, they hang a red sign on the door; when it’s an OK to come and talk to me, it’s green. Of course, we want to minimize the red time, but it’s still necessary.  

When a boss comes in and interrupts you, the likelihood is that they don’t understand what you’re doing and why it’s essential that you need a time of no interruptions. There are significant errors that can occur when you don’t have full concentration. Here are a few examples.

I had a production manager who used to inverse the numbers on the packing/shipping slips. 

So instead of shipping 750,000 parts as ordered and packed, he mistakenly noted that we sent 570,000 parts – entirely wrong! What detriment is 180,000 parts? How does that affect our sales? Think about yourself and your own situation. What if you or your admin person made an error on a bill – perhaps an AIA bill. 

And the error caused the customer to send it back to your company for correction. Which then pushed your payment to the next month. Don’t we all want to be paid ASAP? Don’t we all want to submit correct invoices the first time around and get paid ASAP? Of course! 

  1. Let your boss know what can happen when mistakes are made due to interruptions.  

You can forget to do something fundamental. Say your goal today is to get to the bank and deposit money so that you can pay payroll. But your boss comes in and asks you to call up the vendors and find pricing for some tools that are needed for the job. You forget to go to the bank. As a result, you don’t get to the bank on-time, and there’s a problem with payroll, and come Thursday lunch, everybody is mad at you and asking when they can cash their check. 

This is a case of your boss not understanding what you’re up to nor understanding how long it takes to get specific responsibilities accomplished

To wrap up, when your boss interrupts you, have compassion that they’re busy but also know that they might not understand what you’re doing and why it’s essential to have 100% focus for some particular responsibilities such as invoicing and payroll.  

Published by Janet Johnson | Financial Coach for Small Businesses

Janet Johnson is the author of My Money Pivot: An Entrepreneur's Guide to Finding & Making More Money. Before becoming a coach, Janet gained seventeen years of experience in a family-owned manufacturing company. She also trained small business owners in Financial Management and Lean Enterprise for seven years through contracts with the State of Connecticut and the Small Business Administration for seven years.

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