Monday, November 28, 2016

3 Ways to Nudge a Procrastinating Boss

It can be very frustrating when you work hard on a report or project, and then submit it to the boss where it will then languish until the next presidential election.

When the boss is the clog in the drain, the knot in the rope, the fence in the pasture (okay, I'm out of examples) it can be frustrating. The entire organization can get stuck when you have a boss that procrastinates. Maybe he or she comes up with multiple excuses as to why the project isn't moving forward, or why no decision can be made at this time.

If you're looking for a way to get a boss to get it in gear so you can also continue to make progress in your work and your career, here are some ideas:

1. Calm down. The more you think about the bottleneck, the angrier or more frustrated you may become. Instead of storming into the boss's office or firing off a snotty email demanding action, let the boss know you're open to suggestions. "Is there a concern you have about this project -- or some ways I can improve it before sending to the entire committee?" you can ask. It could be that there are factors you don't understand about the delay, and it would be a smart idea to learn about them before you jump to conclusions.

2. Listen.  Don't be confrontational, but ask questions that can help you understand specifically what the holdup might be. Listen carefully and look for signs about what may be concerning the boss and causing delays. For example, he may repeatedly mention delivery problems with another project. That may be a good time to say that you could research alternative delivery partners for your project, just to make sure all the bases are covered.

3. Discuss advantages. Of course it's clear to you why this project needs to move forward: You want to get it off your plate, you don't want the delay to make even more work for you in the future and you think it could garner you some real notice in the industry. But while it's clear what this project can do for you, have you made it clear what it can do for the boss? She is much more likely to give it the green light if it's going to help her solve a problem, make less work or attract more new customers.

Procrastination often is the result of fear or stress. Your job is to figure out what you can do to help alleviate that fear or stress by the boss so that your project can move forward.

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