Drunken Boss

8 Jun

Letterbalm Man DrinkingDear LetterBalm: I work for a great executive who’s always been very good at his job. But for the past six months, my boss has been closing the door to his office and drinking. I’m the administrative assistant for him and two others, and he’s never done this before. He starts almost as soon as he arrives in the morning and continues all day. His work production has slacked off considerably, and, because he’s pretty drunk by three o’clock, I’ve had to cover for him so he won’t get into trouble. So far, he’s managed to handle important morning meetings (before he gets going with the alcohol), but this can’t last. I leave at five, and I have no idea when he goes home. He’s married with three children. Should I talk with him, his wife, the firm’s head partner? I’m very worried, and I don’t know what to do.

–Prudent Assistant

You’re right to be concerned. Ms. L.B. can only imagine what is provoking a formerly top performer to sink into a bottle. This is fairly straightforward. Rehearse what you’ll say ahead of time and ask for a few minutes with the lead partner. Make sure you tell him or her that you’ve discussed your concerns with no one in the firm (although it may not be a secret by now). Keep it brief, professional and tactful:

Sam/Mr. Jones, I’m the administrative assistant for Charles Worthy, and I’ve come to you on a matter of some concern. You need to know that for the past six months Charles/Mr. Worthy has been drinking heavily all day behind his closed office door. This is not normal for him – he’s always been an exemplary person and excellent at his job. I haven’t discussed this with anyone at the firm, nor do I intend to. I thought you would want to know this.

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