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I am trying to find out how to ask a manager about request I made to him a few days ago, and he said he would find out in x days, but x days has passed. He usually doesn't respond unless you ask him again and again.

As an example, asking him about buying a training course subscription for which he needs to get approval from CEO.

I normally start it by saying,

"Heya, Just thinking if you get a chance to ask CEO about...."

How do I remind him effectively?

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I don't consider chasing to be bad etiquette after a reasonable length of time. Where they've given [x] days, I always wait until [x]+1 and then I'll simply send an e-mail with

Hi Boss,

I just wondered if you'd had a chance to speak to John about the XYZ Training subscription?

Cheers, Dan

I don't think it needs any fluff - simply give them something they can scan read and respond to as appropriate. Or, simply ask the same in person.

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Assume your boss is busy and many more things that are higher in priority than your request. Just say, "I know you're busy, but I wanted to follow-up on my previous request..."

You know you have to ask again, so this shouldn't be a surprise. The amount of time he indicated it would take has expired, so you're not being pushy or unreasonable in your inquiry on the status of the request.

Most good bosses understand their limitations and let people know that unless they make follow-up requests, it could fall behind/get forgotten. Have a conversation with your boss and find out how he wants you to proceed. He may want you to remind him a few days before he said it would be done; otherwise, it is guaranteed to get delayed.

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You're doing a follow-up and a nudge. Nothing more. It's not a big deal, it's not complicated, don't overthink it. Be direct and to the point:

"Has the CEO approved the payment for the course subscription?"

If the manager has not followed up, then put on the (gentle but firm) pressure:

"Can you tell when you'll ask the CEO? Because if the CEO approves, the sooner the CEO approves, the sooner I can get on with this course"

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I would be a little more sensitive...

Hey boss,

I asked you about topic X last week and you said the next step was for you to talk to the CEO, any updates?

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Your manager is busy. All managers are. You are not the only person they are responsible for.

One of your jobs is to make life as easy for your boss as possible. Happy boss = happy you :-)

So, you need to understand how your boss works and what will motivate him and keep him happy.

You could just send him an email. But I bet he gets hundreds and will find it very easy to ignore.

Consider the following...

  • Can you send a meeting invite? Just 15 minutes to discuss the training course. Seeing it in his diary may motivate him.
  • Are you able take responsibility yourself? Offer to write up the business-plan and associated documentation so he has something concrete to present to his boss?
  • Is it possible for you to ask his PA / Assistant? Rather than bother him directly, find out if they know anything.
  • Finally, what are the consequences of bypassing him and going direct to the CEO / HR? Is he going to think you're an enterprising go-getter? Or will he think you're trying to subvert him?

Remember, reduce the pressure on your boss - that's the best way to get something out of him.

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