How to Succeed as an AWOL Manager

For those of you who wonder, AWOL = Absent Without Official Leave

Have you made it to the top of a team/department/organization after years and years of hard waiting on that amazing promotion? Then congratulations, it has been worth the wait! Now you are the boss of them all and can finally call the shots. But wait, what? Now, it turns out, you have a lot of work to do, people to hire and fire, and there are those long emails you have to write about nonsensical things that people might want to know about! Now that is a bummer! How about I teach you a few things that you might want to consider before you dig into that pile of work, those long meetings and those difficult conversations you have to go through with your direct reports. You should know that there is a way for you to keep that awesome position, that really appealing salary and one big fat bonus at the end of the year and you might not need to do anything! Here is how you can achieve that:

  1. Choose your battles carefully: only be in the meetings you want to be in! Do not accept invitations to meetings where you have to give your opinion or make a decision, but only accept the ones where you do not have to speak at all. For that to happen, make sure to block your calendar from 9 to 5 with fake busy slots, so that if an employee wants to book a meeting with you, they will only find a time slot for when you are not in the office anymore. As a matter of fact, why don’t you block your entire afternoon and evening, too! That way, if a colleague wants to talk to you at 9:30 PM about a bug they found in staging, you are already in bed and can postpone it for the next day. Or next week, better. Just make sure that your calendar is fully blocked, that way you will show them that you are really really busy and simply cannot make it. You are entitled to ultra business now, you are a big boss!
  2. Buy some time! When a problem arises and your team desperately needs your ideas, do not answer immediately. Give them some time to forget about it and when you finally answer, make sure to let them know that your daughter (if you have one) is sick and you will be out of office for the day. Just make sure to still give them the option to write you an email which you might read sometime between 10 PM and midnight, when your daughter is finally sleeping. If you do not have kids, things might be a bit tougher for you. You might consider having kids now! As a matter of fact, tell your employees that you cannot attend their issue because you are busy making kids and that it is your wife’s or girlfriend’s (if you have one) last biological chance. Anything can work, as long as you have a mother, father, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, dog or cat or parrot. Just make it sound serious and imperative!
  3. Get a co-boss who has your back. As we all know, in management like in anything else in life, there is nothing better and easier than having multiple decision makers that make decisions all day long and consent on everything all the time. It is your right to have a brother or sister-in-arms who has your back when your dog desperately needs a haircut. Make sure to trade in your opinion, your backbone and any left piece of pride you might have with the possibility to not be at work! Bestow upon them the grand power of making decisions in your name, too. Nothing sounds better than Bonnie and Clyde, Cesar and Cleopatra, Hillary and Bill etcetera etcetera. Except for the fact that in their cases, they both played an active role in their success, nothing speaks against appearing as a power management couple with one of the actors missing in action. Who can tell? Who knows anyway, apart from everyone who actually works with you? After a while they will all get bored of chasing you and will leave you alone.

If you can do these three things well enough, then you are on your way to being the perfect AWOL manager who not only does not need to do anything to keep their position and title active and cash in a beautiful salary, but who also gets to be part of a legendary successful power business couple. Ah and one more thing, just so you do not make yourself forgotten! Show yourself at company parties to prove everyone that you are still in the company and that you are still interested in your employees, especially when they loosen up and get to tell you some funny stories over a beer or two. It just makes you more…approachable. But of course, do let them know the next day that due to the long night out, you will take a short sick leave to rest. Good luck!




I am a facilitator, agile coach and product enthusiast living in Berlin.

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Anca Trif

Anca Trif

I am a facilitator, agile coach and product enthusiast living in Berlin.

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