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I have sent an e-mail to my supervisor, and I asked him to give his comments regarding a document. In the response I got this:

"Thank you for sending this. At the moment I do not have time to review it, although I will try to do so next week."

I found this post, What is appropriate email follow-up etiquette after no response?, but I'm not sure how to word my email as the person I'm contacting happens to be my supervisor.

It's been almost 3 weeks I haven't from him back. My supervisor and I work in different cities. How should I write a polite follow up e-mail?

  • @MichaelGrubey, The pointed answers seem too theoretical. I would be thankful if I could have any related samples. – A.Amidi Jul 8 '13 at 7:43
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    @A.Amidi thats sort of the equivalent of going to stack overflow and asking for them to write you code. We can't do your job for you, if you follow the guidelines in that other post then the resultant email should suit your needs. We can't write it for you, we don't know the people involved, the situation, the feel of the workplace etc etc – Rhys Jul 8 '13 at 7:50
  • Have you talked to your supervisor face to face about this? I see too many people using emails for things where they could literally stand up, walk 10 paces, and just ask and get a real time response. :) – jmort253 Jul 8 '13 at 7:56
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    What about Skype? Google Hangouts? Have you considered a phone call? If not, why not? :) As an aside, the more info you provide about how the other post doesn't solve your problem, the better the community may be able to help. I started things off with a few edits, feel free to take it from there. – jmort253 Jul 8 '13 at 8:05
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    My first instinct would be to answer this with "pick up the phone and call". If that's not possible for some reason, I encourage you to clarify in the post. Email is a poor means of communication for action items, I've found. – jmort253 Jul 8 '13 at 8:27
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He's your boss, so you should have a relatively good working relationship with him, with lots of stuff flying and back and forth between you, so sending a 'nag' shouldn't be a problem.

I think that most people will forget or not bother doing something if they don't have a firm deadline that is communicated to them on a regular basis. When I request somebody do something I try to give a clear deadline and if they can't make it, agree a revised deadline and specify when you will start to remind them that it needs to be done.

IMO, you should not have waited passively for two weeks after the deadline to chase. You should have sent a polite reminder that he needed to review the document the week he said he would review it in and then send emails in increasing frequency in relation to how urgent it was getting. You need to make up for it now, by replying on the thread and setting a new deadline for the work and starting the process from scratch as he will need to allocate time for a task he hasn't scheduled for.

Even though he's your boss, you still have to manage the relationship as work will naturally flow both ways, so getting into the habit of being more proactive with gentle reminders before deadlines and polite chasers if it's missed will help establish what you consider to be acceptable behaviour and he will adjust to it, or tell you what he expects instead.

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I'd just write something along the lines of "Did you get a chance to review this yet? It would be great if I could have it by X date for Y reason.". Sometimes you just have to be direct but you may want to soften it a little.

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  • I'd love to know the reason for the downvote. – user319940 Jul 8 '13 at 9:35

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