I have a manager who is absolutely great. You name it he's got what you want in a boss. He works incredibly long hours though. Typically 6-7 days a week, during the week at least 10 hour days and often late into the night, say work 10-7 then again from 9-11, sometimes he works till 4 or 5am then is back at work the next morning. Weekends he often is working at least 5 hours a day.

Normally I wouldn't care too much about his work schedule, if he wants to work its up to him. However, he's told me that in the past he's been hospitalized due to a heart problem from overwork and stress, and he also said in an offhand way working so many hours is damaging his marriage and relationship with his kids.

Couple notes on specifics:

1.) A large portion of his work is triaging defects, clarifying requirements, and orchestrating the api's between in a large system. Our team manages a vital service in the overall scheme of things.

2.) Often times he doesn't want to work, but people pull him into discussions when problems arise or they need his input. His boss is very demanding and expects him to respond quickly when asked.

3.) I'm a relative junior to the team so I can help him solve problems, in our service but when it comes to the intersystem problems I don't yet have experience enough to competently fill in for him, particularly when there's an outage and people are scrambling to fix things.

4.) He pulls people from our team as needed to fix problems, but works alongside us as we work.

5.) He's happy with my performance.

6.) Budget is too tight to hire someone else, our team size is around 10 dev, qa, and architect all counted.

I'm really afraid something bad will happen to him, another heart attack, or divorce or he just gets tired of it all and quits. Is there anything an employee can do to help an overworked boss?

  • Your boss has confided quite a bit with you on both a professional and personal level. It seems like you should just ask him how you can help. Why don't you feel you can do that?
    – user8365
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 21:08
  • @jeffO We never have had like a long discussion, most of what he says comes out in bits and pieces while we work those longs hours together. I guess I feel hesitant to talk to him because I don't want to feel insubordinate or feel like we're really on like a friend to friend level yet. He's also probably twice my age at least.
    – mercurial
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 22:54
  • If you're both there working long hours, has there ever been a time when you could have offered to take care of it by yourself? Maybe you could ask for a little more instruction, so you could learn to do it yourself as part of your professional growth.
    – user8365
    Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 14:36

3 Answers 3


Ultimately there isn't a lot you can do other than finish your work quickly and completely. If he doesn't have to follow up with assignments you're working on it will be one less thing he has on his list.

If you find yourself with downtime, ask him what he needs help with. Not only will this help clear his plate, but he will see your drive and interest in growing and developing more skills that are valuable to the company.

How much he works is really on him though. His boss might be demanding and expects a lot because he set the standard so high. He worked 50+ hours per week for so long now it's just expected that it's the norm.


I understand this all too well. Aside from the health issues, I hate seeing my very good manager pulling out his hair because of how many ways he's being pulled. As said in other comments, you need to start by working to the best of your ability. The faster you take on new projects, the faster they come off of his plate. Only to an extent, however. Users see fast completion as a way to ask for more things, after all.

The sad fact is that, as a manager, he's likely well aware of his situation and is ready for it. Maybe he even thrives under the pressure, heart problems notwithstanding. The best YOU can do, imnsho, is offer your assistance. I don't know why people are so against talking to others any more. ^_^ Pull him aside in a more private conversation, let him know that you're seeing him pull out his hair and want to help as much as possible. State to him what you did here, and tell him that you'd like to help.

If you want to take the awkward off of this, you can be sly and tell him you'd like to learn as much as possible so that you can take his place when he bumps off (with appropriate exaggerated wink and elbow nudge). Seriously, though, ask for cross-training so that you can be as much assistance to others as possible, and so you can help handle the questions. Don't expect it to be a fast thing, but give him the opportunity and knowledge that you're looking to advance in this direction and why.

Good luck!


Few will say "no" if you ask if there's anything you can help them out with, unless there really is nothing you can do. But it never hurts to offer.

In the end your manager is responsible for his own career choices. Unfortunately, all too often, good managers quit, good teams get broken up, and great jobs get downsized -- and there's nothing you can do but look for the next great opportunity.

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