Managers have a lot on their plates, which sometimes can prevent them from getting back to you about your project in a timely manner. This prevents you from moving forward and slows the process down, writes Alex Cavoulacos, a founder of The Muse. But sometimes, you can be partially to blame. The way you communicate with your manager has a lot to do with how and when you receive feedback. Here are C+A+O, the three elements to any decision you should remember when writing emails to your boss.
• Context. Make sure you provide context to the situation. While it may be obvious to you why this is important, you’ll need to explain it to your boss. Start with the big picture and explain the impact this decision will have on the company. Your boss doesn’t work on this particular area as much as you do, so you’ll have to explain why he should care.
• Alternatives. Just laying out the problem isn’t enough to get your boss engaged. You need to think of the solutions, too. Research shows that too many choices can inhibit the decision-maker, but only one option can put you at risk of being shot down too quickly because you proposed something your boss didn’t like. Instead, propose two to four choices that will give your manager something to think about, and then come to a decision promptly.
• Outcome. Tell your boss what he would get if he chose each option. You can recommend a solution and demonstrate your thought process. This is a great time to show your problem-solving skills. By giving your employer enough information, you’ve shortened the back-and-forth time and put yourself much closer to a yes.
— Adapted from “The Magical Email Formula That’ll Speed Up Your Boss’ Decision (and Let You Get Back to Work),” Alex Cavoulacos, The Muse.