Office Politics

Bad Bosses how to Work for someone with a Drinking Problem



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If you are struggling to deal with an alcoholic boss, you are not alone. According to estimates, 18 million Americans are alcoholics. An average of 10% of all full-time employees abuse alcohol or other chemicals in the workplace. Alcohol is responsible for nearly one half of all automobile accidents. 64% of all accidents on the job are alcohol related. Estimates are that alcoholics and problem drinkers are between 4 and 7 times more likely to be absent from work. The statistics are indeed sobering.

The alcoholic boss has been put in a position of trust. This person, whether they supervise one person or one thousand, is expected to train, mentor, motivate, and set an example for other employees. Instead, you may have found that your boss has done a deplorable job of discharging any of these responsibilities. On the contrary, this person likely has been unreliable, capricious, and unfocused at work. They have been absent quite a bit and are showing up late more often than normal. Worse still, they may have been abusive at times in their treatment of you and your co-workers. You are carrying more than your load and you know it.

On the other hand, you may genuinely like this person. Perhaps they have flashes of brilliance and can teach you a lot about your profession when they are sober and not hungover. Maybe you have seen some temporary improvements in their behavior lately. You wonder if you can have a little chat with him or her and discuss the problem. You have the best intentions; you want to improve the situation. Before you approach a boss you should know:

Your boss has a disease and is powerless over alcohol. Their life is unmanageable and they are probably confused and in pain, despite constantly denying the problem. Denial is a part of the disease

Over the long term, if your boss is a practicing alcoholic is highly unlikely that they can control their drinking and will need help getting and staying sober.

Unless you have substance abuse counseling experience or education, you are not in a position to adequately help this person.

Your human resources department or coordinator should be trained, or at least prepared, to deal with this type of situation. It is not a betrayal to go to someone else about this situation. In the worst case, you may have to go over the bosses head. You owe it to yourself and your firm.

If that is not enough motivation, considering that you might be saving a life. I know. My employees saved mine 15 years ago.

Warmest Regards,

More about this author: Grace Glassier

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