To Be More Effective, Give Your Boss a Deadline

One way to effectively manage a boss is to give her a deadline when she doesn’t give you one.

One of the complaints I frequently get from managers in my MBA classes is that their bosses rarely say by when they want something done.  Bosses say things like “when you get a chance”, “this week”, or “when you are done with what you are doing.”  Unfortunately, none of these is very specific and each leaves the manager open to criticism for not getting it done when the boss expects it.  As one manager put it, “I am clear of the value of giving a deadline, but my boss doesn’t and if I push him for one, he gets irritated. Any suggestions for what I should do?”

Yes, there is something you can do – give your boss a deadline.  How do you do that?  By telling her by when you will get it to her and ask if that will work.  For example, assume your boss asks something like, “I want you to prepare a summary of regional sales by product line and store and send it to me and all regional managers”, in which she doesn’t say by when she wants it.  You can reply, “Sure, I can have it done and sent out by 3PM this Friday, will that work?”  You have just given your boss a deadline.

Due dates are key ingredients in performance conversations and you can give anyone a due date even when they forget.

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