DEAR HARRIETTE: I am an assistant, and my boss is a mess. He always tries to do everything and multitask; meanwhile, he mixes up details and is forgetful. He hired me to help him keep his business in order, but he makes that difficult for me. He will give me tasks to complete, but if there are any approvals I need, he takes a long time to give them. During our meetings, he does not listen to me and always seems to be doing something else. When I come across some information that he has not informed me of, he tells me he will handle it. Then, when there are things that are wrong or he has forgotten to do something, he tells me that it is my fault and that I am not working hard enough. He is not approachable. He can never admit he is wrong, so I get blamed. My boss’s behavior is our biggest challenge in the workday. What can I do? -- Taken for Granted
DEAR TAKEN FOR GRANTED: Your job, if you choose to remain working for this man, is to create a system that he will consider following to make his life easier. Perhaps you can design a schedule that recommends times when you will handle scheduling questions, approvals, research -- whatever the tasks at hand are. Create a checklist that you both can follow, but you actively check things off and send the list to him daily to show him what has been accomplished.
Set alarms for deadlines so that you can remind him (and yourself) far enough in advance so that nobody is late. Tell him what you are doing so that he can grow to expect it, such as a reminder 10 minutes before a meeting or a project deadline.
Request weekly meetings to review progress. Be organized and succinct so that you have a chance of getting him to pay attention.