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I'm a project manager working at a bank. From time to time I need some decisions from my boss, e.g. approvals for budgets. To give you an example, one consultancy we are working with needs us to approve their estimates, otherwise they can't continue working with us.

I've tried communicating to my boss that we can't continue our work unless the budget is approved many times, both verbally and in writing. It doesn't bring anything.

At the same time, the consultancy blames me for not being able to continue work. I feel like a jerk when I communicate that the budget has been communicated to my boss and I'm waiting for the approval and that yes, I've reminded him many times, but no, there is no decision.

Obviously, there are consequences for our time plan too.

On the other hand, I'm not sure whether there's a better way to deal with that.

The budget is just one example. Avoiding the topic/ decision is his default reaction to situations that may provoke conflicts or he doesn't want to take.

How to deal with that? I find my personal reputation important.

  • Does the consultancy know that you are not the approved decision maker regarding things such as budget? – sf02 May 23 at 18:27
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Can you copy a consultancy person in the emails you send to your boss asking for the approval and the reminders? Then they will actually see you're doing your part and everything you can. They will have no reason to blame you.

Yeah, your boss probably won't like it but is a way to push him to do his job. You'll have to decide if that possible problem with your boss worth it.

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Name of the game, when trying to be professional, is managing expectations.

As I see it, you have two problems:

  1. Boss that doesn't follow through on promise to do X
  2. Your counter-part being annoyed that promises are note delivered, lashing at you

Regarding (2): you have to manage expectations, and not let them drive you crazy. If something is not done, and you are not responsible for making it happen, or even for setting up timeline, you can't take any extra responsibility. Your only answer, repeated as often as necessary is

This decision/work item has not been finished yet and I don't know when it will be done

Your hope there is that your counter-part will ask "So, who can I talk to about it?"

Don't give them boss's contacts. You can forward that email to your boss, saying:

Hi boss, the people on the other side want to know when Y will be done. What do you want me to tell them?

Your hope there is that boss will interact with them directly, or tell you to do something.

Regarding point number (1). You have to start "managing up", and instead of asking boss to do X, ask when you can expect X and ask what you should be doing. Start asking for more time estimates, and provide more detailed reasons for why you are asking for it. Start putting more conversations like that in writing for when Uber-boss comes down looking for people to blame.

For example:

Hi boss, could you please let me know when X will be done, I need it to finish/start Y. Otherwise I have nothing to do, is there something I should be doing meanwhile?

  • I really hate it when people come here complaining about their incompetent manager and they are told they have to manage their incompetent manager. – gnasher729 May 23 at 23:17
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    @gnasher729 in my experience, people don't usually know it is an option. – aaaaaa May 23 at 23:28

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