It's happened a few times that my supervisor or my boss has told me that there's something that they're going to assign to me but nothing happens. For one of them, my boss said that the prerequisites were not ready yet. But I have no idea what the reasons were for the others.

I'd like to know what the best way is to follow up with them about those tasks. I don't know what politics to use when asking them that what happened to that X task that I was supposed to do; so that they don't think that I'm going to judge their weak schedule or question their wrong information. On the other hand, I'm afraid if I don't ask anything they'll think that I'm not interested in doing tasks and prefer to be idle at work.

To clarify my question I need to add that my role is DB report writer. So I need to wait for a report to be requested by some other departments to do that. Besides, the prerequisites also should be prepared by other departments. I have told my boss that I have sometime among my reports to do something else but he had no idea what to assign to me. I have defined a project for myself and told my boss that I'm going to investigate on something to see if that helps part of their job.

  • 4
    Do you have a title? or a job description? were you hired because of some skills? Make yourself useful. Don't wait for someone to tell you what to do. Start doing it yourself. Figure out what the company needs and do it. Some people are really bad at delegating. Jan 12, 2018 at 1:16
  • 2
    Are you sitting around doing nothing otherwise? What is stopping you from doing your own tasks until the necessary prerequisites are ready? Is this happening each time your boss says there is a project? Why can't you ask your boss why your projects are always falling through?
    – Dan
    Jan 12, 2018 at 3:51
  • Do you have a weekly status meeting or a daily standup?
    – corsiKa
    Jan 12, 2018 at 4:18
  • Thank you Appulus for editing my question, I really appreciate that. English is my second language, that's why I'm not much good at it. Jan 12, 2018 at 16:28
  • I added some explanation to clarify my position at work. Jan 12, 2018 at 16:41

1 Answer 1


Just ask them. Say you've discussed the task recently, and prompt whether they have more clarity of the prerequisites now. Tell them the time you are available to start working on the task, and if you currently have nothing to do, ask what your priority should be. Just be polite, stress your interest in doing the tasks, not the fact you've discussed it multiple times.

A good boss isn't going to read judgement into this. It will actually be a good thing that you are being proactive. Your supervisor may have a lot of tasks on their hand, and have simply forgotten about yours, or hasn't really had the time to revise them and get back to you. It's important that you don't just sit around doing nothing unless told to.

In any case, don't stay idle. Pick up something that can help your team or company. If you are in a team, you can ask your team mates for tasks you can help them with. Depending on your industry, there may be a number of maintenance or housekeeping tasks. For example in software there could always be writing more unit tests, reducing technical debt, writing documentation, clearing out old tickets from your bug tracking system, etc.

Especially if you are new in the company, let your supervisor (and team, if it affects them) know what you are doing so no effort is duplicated or wasted. You can tell them you are waiting for them to prepare the requirements for your task, and that in the meanwhile, you suggest that you do this and that task that colleague A and B told you about.

  • 1
    Pick up something that your team, your company or yourself. Training is also part of the job. I invested a lot on implementing automation, doing and inventing new projects in services that were bad, reneweing legacy implementations, documenting stuff and giving support to the development team in my “idle” time. I was so good at it I was assigned for a new role more oriented to new projects. Jan 12, 2018 at 11:32

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .