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I work at an in-house creative agency as a UX/UI Designer. My line manger is the creative director, I am the only person in the team other than him who does UX UI work. It seems to me he believes that everyone should ALWAYS be working and working outside of work hours as well. However, he is careful to never suggest this out loud or in writing.

I track all my work and give weekly reports, usually when he sends new work I tell hime I am working on X and won’t have time to do Y. His response is typically “oh, you should be able to do that in 15 min” To which I usually respond by explaining the true complexity of the task, how long similar tasks have taken in the past and the tradeoffs relative to the other work I am doing making it clear that I don’t have enough time. His typical follow up is just do the most you can But also work on the other projects.

Let me share some examples:

Example 1: If I come close to 9 o’clock and if while turning on my computer, I begin chatting with a colleague for a few min. He’ll notice, email me some work and say “hay could you look at xyz, this is urgent just came in” (even though its one of his tasks or has been sitting in the task inbox unassigned for a while and I have plenty of stuff to do already.

Example 2: He always sets team meeting to 9am on a Monday or Friday to get people to come in early, even though he himself rarely joins and if he does so its typically towards the end.

Example 3: After tracking my time for months and developing a reasonable model of how long a task typically takes, and present this to him infant of this manager he agreed to take some work off me. But first of all he took the most high-profile work that requires face-time with the CEO, of the three tasks he took on he failed to do any work on 2 of them, took a sick day, called me and asked me to look at the two projects, after he came back the next day and I tried to hand them back he said I was doing a great job already.

Example 4: We track time to bill to clients using an internal system. He regularly drops hints at me to overestimate the amount of work I’ve done for clients e.g. the other week I noted you did this over the weekend make sure you track that. Or I noticed you came in 2hrs early to get this done make sure you track that. Or my favourite: “Make sure you quote for the value provided not the time spent”

I have tried everything I could think of: tracking time, emailing him my daily activity and priorities and informing him of every trade off. Raising the workload issue with his manager. After his manager forced him to look at workloads he ask the team to come up with a number of projects they each think they can work on simultaneously which was 4 or 5, with 3x with clients for feedback and 2x active. But he told me to that this doesn’t apply to my work and that we ought to catchup later.

I hate playing an armchair psychologist but by my estimation he has ADHD, he only works on projects last minute, is terrible at estimating how long something will take, constantly over promises to clients, and routinely avoids doing work by coming in late, having very long lunches, and then doing work last minute outside of working hours.

When I suggested that we ought to get a project manager and work in an agile fashion like the developers he refused. Later I over-heard him say to his manager: “there is good things about agile, but I don’t think its right for UX work”. If I work closely with developers it makes sense for me to use their methodology as I have to attend stand-ups anyway.

Sorry for the long post but I just wanted to illustrate how he consistently tries to make sure that everyone is always working on 110% capacity such that they are forced to stay late or work weekend. The rest of the company outside of his direct reports follows an agile methodology, people don’t setup meetings for 9 o’clock and estimate time in afternoons to account for switching costs, and even a little office banter, which in my option is completely acceptable.

I have started applying for jobs and going for interviews, but since I have a 3-month notice period I am still stuck here for three months, what do I do ?

P.S. I also think my co-workers who are managed by him are showing signs of stress one has difficulty sleeping, another keeps chewing their nails and spoke about how she has started seeing a therapist, and a third is concerned she might have heart issues because she has palpitations.

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  • While highly imperfect and unable to respond to some legitimate patterns of business need, you might find it interesting to read about how agile methodologies have as a design goal an attempt to impose an order and priority on task queues for a period of time sufficient that work can actually get done before everything gets reshuffled by a new request. – Chris Stratton Dec 16 '19 at 17:29
  • While not an exact duplicate, I feel like these answers will help you: workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/122329/… – Lumberjack Dec 16 '19 at 17:32
  • Relevant: workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/54904/… – Lumberjack Dec 16 '19 at 17:34
  • "the other week I noted you did this over the weekend make sure you track that. Or I noticed you came in 2hrs early to get this done make sure you track that." Is he asking you to lie about it? Or telling you to track the time you've legitimately spent? – dustytrash Dec 16 '19 at 18:20
  • In my experience, agile doesn’t work in the agency world. Too many people want to micromanage their little kingdoms for anything like that to be successful. – prieber Dec 17 '19 at 4:48
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His typical follow up is just do the most you can But also work on the other projects.

I have started applying for jobs and going for interviews, but since I have a 3-month notice period I am still stuck here for three months, what do I do ?

As your manager told you, you should just do the most you can.

When I have more to do than time allows, I make sure I work with my manager to set priorities correctly. That way, when you run out of time, the most important tasks have the best chance of getting done.

And based on your prior question, you should work hard on finding your next job.

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This sounds like a stressful situation with your boss over-assigning his employees' workload. I think you may be on to something with your assumption about adult ADHD, but I would also suggest your boss doesn't understand work boundaries, and it seems to be showing in you and your colleagues.

If you are already considering finding a new job then before you go it might be worthwhile to try having a conversation about workplace boundaries and what you are and aren't capable of completing.

My main point is you need to look out for 'you.' Your own well-being is important and knowing what you are able to achieve within a set period of time. It seems as though you've tracked good data to support you. Perhaps speaking with him about your workload would ease these last three months before you transition, or, who knows, maybe it resolves itself and you won't need to transition.

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  • Thanks for your support and answer. While I haven't had the conversation about boundaries specificlly, I have had numerous conversations about workloads, I have simply restored to leaving at 5:30 on the dot and coming in exactly on time. I inform him of priorities and if something looks like it's not getting done I inform the cleint ahead of time and tell him to raise this with my manager. The issue I have is that he believes quite strongly that this amount of work is normal and does everything possible to keep everyone in line. He doesn't put anything in writing that I could use as evidence – Lukas_T Dec 16 '19 at 17:48
  • @Lukas_T You talk to the client instead of your manager? And you tell your client to talk to the manager? Unless I am misunderstanding the situation, this is likely to exacerbate your problems, rather than ameliorate them. With only the background you've provided here, it sounds like you are trying to sabotage your supervisor. – Lumberjack Dec 16 '19 at 17:53

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