How can I (tactfully) get my boss to stop distracting me?

(12 Posts)
goodbeans Thu 01-Mar-18 23:35:36

I work for a small company with two directors, one of whom is (workshy and) responsible for finance/HR. She has always been keen for a chat (at the expense of doing work) but more and more frequently she talks long and loud across the office when others are trying to work. It is a massive distraction and hindrance to doing anything which requires mental focus, and I know it is bothering people other than just me. I’m relatively senior so I feel like I should address this for the benefit of everyone else but I don’t know how to? I can’t go to HR: she is HR! I’m not particularly tactful and she’s not overly receptive to subtly delivered messages (like use of earplugs, or mention of general office noise as an issue during appraisals etc). Any advice much appreciated!

OP’s posts: |
daisychain01 Fri 02-Mar-18 04:29:31

How often does she do this? If it's once a day, then I wouldn't make an issue out of it. Perhaps humour her for a few minutes to be sociable, then get up from your seat and say, sorry must dash to the little girls room before my next meeting - to break the conversation.

Or have a headset ready, and be prepared to put it on and signal that you're about to jump onto a call.

Or try to steer things back to a work related topic.

Or be blunt "do you ever get any work done?" OK maybe not grin

What sorts of things does she chat about? Are they any way remotely work related?

endofthelinefinally Fri 02-Mar-18 05:10:43

Buy sime noise cancelling head phones and tell her your gp told you to get them as you suffer from tinnitus.

RiotAndAlarum Fri 02-Mar-18 06:50:13

The obvious thing to do is to talk to the other director. If there are a number of you being affected, there's a business case for this, so concentrate your complaints on that. Also, if anyone's HR issue (leave, pay, training, recruitment, etc.) has been neglected or poorly handled due to time spent chatting about non-work things, it's legitimate to mention those; in fact, it would be irresponsible not to! smile

Believeitornot Fri 02-Mar-18 06:54:19

Talk to her first and be direct.

“Can I have a quick chat please”

“I’m having trouble concentrating on my work. Yesterday when you came and spoke to me, I felt unable to get on as I felt distracted. I’m getting a bit stressed as I am falling behind.

I understand and I’m happy to chat. However I need some time to work, so I’d like it if you could give me uninterrupted time please”.

Something like that.

whirlygirly Fri 02-Mar-18 19:50:53

What believe says. Be pleasant but direct. I work with someone like this and it's infuriating. Sometimes I pretend to be on the phone when I see her approach. We're a much bigger office though so the effect is diluted.

Jux Sat 03-Mar-18 00:15:23

"I'm sorry, I'm trying to do something quite complicated and need to concentrate. Would you two mind keeping the noise down, you're quite loud? Thanks." Or "Sorry, I can't stop now, I have to get this done" depending on whether she's just addressing the whole office loudly, or has stopped to chat to you specifically.

Lobsterface Sat 03-Mar-18 00:20:05

Fgs don’t say you’re going to the little girls room

Izzidigne Sat 03-Mar-18 00:27:41

I can't see this going well for you. I think she's likely to be offended and if she's a director you're likely to lose your job. Grin and bear it would be my advice. You said you THINK other people are bothered! You don't say that you KNOW other people are bothered. Maybe they're not and you would be getting into trouble for their sake when they don't care.

daisychain01 Sat 03-Mar-18 14:52:45

There is too little to go on to be able to give any meaningful advice.

How can you effectively pull rank on a Director - they have the power skewed in their favour. Someone's friendliness can easily turn sour if they are crossed.

My original point still stands. How much of an issue is this, how extreme is this HR director's chattiness that it affects the OP to the extent they become unproductive, will dictate whether it's a battle worth fighting.

And fighting other people's battles for them, singlehanded, is not advised. If the OP doesn't have 2 years' service, the HR director can decide their face doesn't fit and show them the door, for no justification.

A bit of subtle obfuscation can be a way to change the pattern of behaviour without shaming the Director and completely upsetting the apple cart.

goodbeans Sun 04-Mar-18 12:06:16

Thanks all. Sorry if there wasn't enough info to go on. I have purchased some earplugs and wear them whenever I need to concentrate, so she knows that I am affected by the noise in the office. So it's not so much the direct conversation from her (which I just cut off if I need to) but the general ambient noise from unnecessary chat. We all like a chat every now and then (it's a friendly office), but sometimes when she can't be bothered to do any work herself she will chat over people's heads (even to the dogs!) in a way that disturbs people who would otherwise be working. (I think she doesn't seem to care/think it bothers anyone else?)
By the end of the day last week one of my colleagues had her head in her hands - she was having to stay late to finish something which she couldn't concentrate on during the day because of the general chat noise (so definitely not just me!)

She's highly likely to take offence if I confront her directly. I have mentioned it to the other director before but I don't think any action was taken. Maybe I just need to escalate it with the other director?

OP’s posts: |
daisychain01 Sun 04-Mar-18 14:59:08

Maybe I just need to escalate it with the other director?

If this HR Director is the chatty type, and is likely to take offence, then escalating her behaviour to her co-Director sounds like the wrong move and will likely sour your relationship with her because she'd argue "if you have a problem, why didn't you talk to me directly".

Again, just ask yourself whether this is a battle worth fighting because it doesn't sound from your latest update like you have the problem with her, it's just the ambient noise that's the issue. And it's other people who have the problem, eg your colleague.

Can you put in a formal request for 1 day per week flexible working ie working from home? You have the right to request it after 26 weeks continuous employment - your employer can decline but need to give a business rationale.

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