Skip to main content Skip to header navigation

My boss has totally given up at work, what do I do?


I’ve worked for my boss for three years. When I started work at his company, it was brand new. At the beginning, he was on fire and so was I with the excitement of being part of a small, growing company. I love a challenge and there was plenty of it. My boss was always proposing new projects and inspired our whole team with being all we could be. Our company grew and I grew with it.

Everything changed about a year ago when his wife left him. Now, he comes in late every morning, works for a little while and then takes off to the gym to work out. He’s missing in action until about 2 p.m. when he strolls in and works until four when he leaves. He doesn’t always return calls that only he can handle but instead leaves me the call slips with notes that say “handle please.”

More: Loving my job is destroying my relationship

Things in our office are a shambles. Two employees have left already. Three of the four of us who remain care about our company and each other and keep things going as well as we can. Without direction, we’re floundering. The fourth remaining employee surfs the Internet all day.

I don’t want to leave because I feel loyal to this boss; I’ve learned a lot from him. He’s told me many times that I’m “in charge” when he’s gone, but this situation is more than I’d bargained for.


Or, is it the challenge you say you seek?

Your boss appears to suffer from depression. Can you get him to take a look at what’s going on and re-engage or encourage him to more formally ask you or another of the three of you to take charge?

More: I let my coworker blame me for everything to avoid conflict

I once worked in a situation similar to the one you describe. Our boss had worked hard for years but a personal situation made him lose heart. Some employees fled and others disengaged without a task master telling them what to do.

The remaining three of us realized it was up to us to make our company what we wanted it to become. We united as a team. We agreed we wouldn’t expect anything out of our boss other than his agreement that we could take charge of the situation. He gave us that and we made the most of our decision-making freedom. Once we stopped waiting for our boss to inspire us, we realized he’d handed us the chance of a lifetime — the opportunity to create a business without having to give up a regular paycheck.

Your story may be different, however, it’s either the challenge you’ve been seeking or you need to exit this company and find a new position. What feels best to you?

If you’d like an answer to your career question, it’s easy. Write Lynne authored Beating the Workplace Bully (AMACOM, 2016) and Solutions. You can also follow Lynne on Twitter or access her other posts on SheKnows, or

Leave a Comment