Handling a Disorganized Boss – How to Suggest a New Organization System for Your Office

Messy Desk

In many office settings the culture trickles from the top down. So what does that mean when the boss is disorganized or the office always feels slightly chaotic? Chances are it doesn’t feel so great. That’s especially true if there is often the feeling that you can’t quite get a handle on projects or papers. As an interested observer with skin in the game you can lead the charge to change without stepping on any toes. Here’s how:

Appeal to the pocket: Disorganization costs time and money. Bindertek founder Stephen J. Schwartz found that the average business professional spends about six weeks of every work year searching for misplaced documents. It goes without saying that there are better ways to use that much time.

And what of documents that are never recovered? They are no doubt the cause of lost contacts, missed follow-ups and, ultimately, revenue that will never reach the bottom line. Disorganization is a direct cause of reduced productivity and lost dollars. Try this approach for a powerful appeal.

Lead by example: In the real world we are known by the company we keep. At work we are also known by the desk or office we keep. If your office feels like a bit of calm in the storm the boss is likely to notice. If you are always the one who knows where things are and can put a hand on files easily, others will notice.

The next time a co-worker, or even your boss, compliments your great organizational skills, don’t just stop at thank you. Use the comments as an opening to start a conversation about how you can help the whole office get organized.

Messy Boss


Offer solutions instead of sniping: Someone on your team misplaced an important file, again. Don’t fret. Find solutions without sniping. Begin by using language that conveys understanding. For example, you might share an example of a time you lost something. Describe what that felt like and share the steps you took to get better organized. Offer to help others follow those steps modified for their own needs and style.

The proof is in the pudding: Keep your eye open for professional journals or articles that tout the benefits of organization in your field. Ultimately, every boss likes to feel they are on top of current trends, and may jump at the chance to implement small changes that yield big results.

Ask for a meeting: If you have the boss’s ear, and the opportunity, ask for a meeting. Visit the Bindertek site and choose some products for her or him to consider.  Plan in advance how you will answer questions about pricing and budget as well as what benefits or improvements you anticipate. Sharpen your pitch with specific examples of how these organizational tools can benefit your office. Remember to include a “what’s in it for me” angle. At the end of the day, the boss is most likely to make a change when the resulting outcome yields personal benefit.


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