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My manager, let's call him "Bob", is not very keen on deadlines. He rarely, if ever, sets actual deadlines for when things need to be accomplished. To compensate for this, I create my own timelines with various milestones for my projects to make sure I'm on schedule.

The issue I'm running in to is that there are things I can't do on my own - they require Bob (since he is also our acting DBA) to do them. I will send an email basically saying "for [some project], I need [such and such] done. If possible, I'd like to have this done by [date]. Thanks." These emails are mostly ignored.

Is it appropriate for me to ask my superior to do what I need to meet these deadlines that I have created? Can I follow-up with Bob until it's actually done, or is this "role reversal"?

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    What happens when you miss these deadlines due to his unresponsiveness? (I assume that has happened before?) – Erik Feb 21 '18 at 13:12
  • If you set deadlines your manage will likely not like it. But if you tell your manager to be able to finish the whole project or milestone before date X you need this and that 10 days before date X latest on date Y. If your manager is interested to finish the project in time then he knows he has to give you this and that in time. That should motivate him to do it because that should be important for him. If he doesn't care then I guess he won't keep that job for a long time. – Edgar Feb 21 '18 at 13:16
  • @Erik It delays when the customer receives their product. For every change that the customer requests, Bob tells the customer "6 months" as the ETA. My timeline for the same change is like 2 weeks. The artificial delays usually stretch it to 2-3 months. The customers don't seem to mind waiting. – Strikegently Feb 21 '18 at 13:36
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    Hm. If the customers don't mind then it's hard to really make a fuss about it, I fear. – Erik Feb 21 '18 at 14:03
  • You say: I create my own timelines with various milestones for my projects to make sure I'm on schedule. Based on what you mentioned, does your schedule (and deadlines you are chasing) calculate with "2 weeks" or "6 months"? – miroxlav Feb 21 '18 at 20:50
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Is it appropriate for me to ask my superior to do what I need to meet these deadlines that I have created?

Yes, but only up to a point.

All you can do is continue to remind your boss (via email, calendar invites, etc.) that your are relying on them in order to complete a given task. If the company is using some kind of development tracking system (Jira, etc.), make sure its clear to anyone that looks that you are waiting on another person in order to finish the task.

Another key to you is to document, document, document. This way if it comes to a head with someone above your manager, you can clearly demonstrated where you needed your manager to complete items for the overall task/project to be completed.

You have to tread carefully here as this person is your manager, and if you make an enemy out of them, they can make your life hell. Also remember HR is not your friend. IMO this is clearly not a case to go running to HR about.

In short, continue reminding your boss that you need their assistance to finish a task, and as long as you have work to do, leave it at that.

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This is an ineffective sentence:

If possible, I'd like to have this done by [date].

This one is far more effective:

We have promised X that this will be live by Y. My workback shows that I need to finish coding this part by Z, and I can't start until you ABC. Allowing D days for me to code, I need ABC from you by [date] to keep my promises. Please let me know if that's not going to be possible.

If your manager isn't much of a deadline-setter, you just mentioning a single date, especially with a pulled punch like "if possible" pretty much conveys no information. If you're worried your email is too long and patronizing with the whole thing, try:

I need ABC from you by [date] to keep our promises to X. Please let me know if that's not going to be possible.

Also notice that I have switched the default from "you won't make my deadline, but it would be super cool if you happened to" to "you will make my deadline unless you tell me otherwise." Your manager may have access to other priorities and have a reason why your tasks are not first on the list, so you have to acknowledge that you might not get what you want, but don't make getting it the exception.

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