More than once someone has said to me “that’s all very well and good for you Harley, you work at a very high level in organizations, for me it’s different. I have to contend with bosses and superiors. Getting them to deliver something on time for you is a nightmare, and if your boss won’t deliver then there is very little you can do!”  “Nonsense!” I reply.

I don’ think that I am any different from anyone else, we all have bosses, even the CEO has to answer to someone (most often his or her shareholders).  We’ve all had pain in the ass bosses and even the perfect ones become busy and sometimes let you down. Even the President of the United States has to hand in work on time and to the expected quality to someone.

The question is should we behave differently when delegating a task upwards as we do downwards? In short the answer is both ‘yes’ and ‘no’. ‘Yes’ in that everyone is unique and needs their own special way of motivation to agree to give you their full commitment; and ‘no’ in as much that it is your task to make it abundantly clear to everyone exactly what the impact is of the task they are taking on. In my opinion one needs to spend three times as much talking about the importance and context of the task as one does on the content itself.

However, most often the problem with our bosses occurs because we tend to send out reminders or chase them much later than we do our subordinates. And that’s a big mistake. The real secret is to not let them become exposed as non deliverers but to remind them that they will be if the deadline they agreed to is not met. After all you’re just doing your job. 

Very few people are ever made redundant for doing their job. Advice: Always remain polite and respectful (as you should to everyone). Be a little stricter delegating upwards than you are downwards (very clear timelines, commitments and consequences). Nine times out of ten you simply won’t have a problem and your boss will be impressed with your effectiveness and efficiency.

In the rare case that your boss fails to deliver after rigorous reminders and follow up, don’t be afraid to highlight the late delivery in progress meetings (but only after letting them know in advance that you simply have no alternative). You’ll be amazed how the delivery comes even moments before the meeting is due to start. No one likes to be the one that lets the team down…

And if all that fails, give them the “I am very disappointed in you” speech. You know the one, the speech that your teacher gave you in front of the class all those years ago when you delivered a poor piece of work, or even failed to deliver at all!

Good luck!

Have a nice week,