When a secretary posted a question on our Admin Pro Forum recently, she heard plenty of advice from admins who have trouble getting supervisors to adhere to deadlines.

Here’s what she wrote: “I am a secretary. We have eight directors in our agency. Two department heads routinely are late submitting their work before the deadlines. Our president knows they do this, but does nothing. When they miss their deadlines, it affects my ability to meet my deadlines. Unlike them, I do get into trouble if I miss my deadlines. What can I do?”

A sampling of the “been-there-done-that” advice:

John A. recommends formally documenting the tardy behavior: “When called to the carpet because the work of others is late, reply, ‘I am happy to comply with all deadlines, but I do not have the latitude or ability to force others to do the same. Perhaps someone with authority can address this issue. In the interim, I will do what I can with what I’m given, and with timeliness and attention to detail.’

“If your work performance is criticized, send an e-mail to all concerned with the same response and then request that your HR manager place the e-mail in your personnel file.

“Place the responsibility where it belongs, and where it’s usually least welcome: the lap of management.”

Terri makes up artificial deadlines: “I had a manager who was always late in meeting deadlines. What I did was give him an artificial deadline at least two days ahead of when it was really due. That way he was always ‘ahead’ of schedule rather than behind.”

Patti says follow up, follow up, follow up: “Several years ago, I was responsible for putting together a monthly business report, with input from six or seven directors. A week before my due date, I sent out an e-mail reminder. Then a couple of days before, I would approach anyone who had not submitted their input and asked if there was anything I could do to help them get it done. It always worked. The report was always submitted on time.”

Lisa takes action before the situation becomes dire.
“The best boss I ever had always told me, ‘Just be sure you keep me informed about what’s going on before a deadline is missed. Don’t wait until afterward to explain what happened.’

“Now when I run into the situation —usually with one specific person—I keep my boss fully informed of the situation. Or I complete the report on time with holes where the missing information should be. That’s all I can do.”

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