I work as the assistant for CEO of a fashion company. I delegate tasks from the CEO to other employees. There are a few people who cannot work with deadlines and always push their work to another day. My CEO doesn't read emails and expects autonomy in the work. I have to get people to finish on time and bring in the work. I don't know how to make them work, because they always say they would do it, then forget it and never do it until I ask.

My solution is to talk with their supervisors about their late work. Are there any other ways?

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    Document, document, document. Every Time you ask them to do something, write it down, every time you have to remind them, write it down. Give yourself enough evidence so that when things don't work out, you have the proof. You can't force people to work to a deadline, but you can at least cover your back and make sure you've done everything in your power to make sure it should have been done
    – Draken
    Jul 28, 2016 at 7:44
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    "How do I manage people?" is a topic for books not a Q&A site.
    – Lilienthal
    Jul 28, 2016 at 7:48
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    To clarify: you're either considered a manager of these employees in which case you need to actually start managing them, or you're not their manager in which case this is likely your boss' problem to solve. Strategies for getting buy-in will be insufficient if you're "just an assistant" and when it involves too many people.
    – Lilienthal
    Jul 28, 2016 at 8:02
  • While the question as framed is too broad, I think there is actually a specific, answerable issue here.
    – user45590
    Jul 28, 2016 at 9:31
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    Actually, I think the question is reasonably focused: OP needs to hand out work and enforce deadlines while not being a manager.
    – sleske
    Jul 28, 2016 at 10:10

3 Answers 3


I have to get people to finish on time and bring in the work. I don't know how to make them work, because they always say they would do it, then forget it and never do it until I ask.

Your situation is a bit tricky, because you are handing out work without (formally) being a manager. However, if you set clear expectations, I think this is manageable.

What you can try:

  • Clearly negotiate a deadline. Something like "Mr X needs task Y done by next Monday. Is that possible for you?" If you get a yes, write it down; if you get a no, renegotiate or ask someone else, and if that still does not work, escalate to your CEO to tell them noone can meet the deadline.
  • Once the deadline approaches, ask about the work (one reminder should be enough). If people miss the deadline, negotiate a new one and make a note.
  • If people regularly miss deadlines, discuss with them how this can be avoided. If you don't get anywhere, escalate to a manager (their manager or your CEO).

This means you are effectively doing the job of a manager - which may not be a bad thing if you want to advance.

Also, you should make an appointment with your CEO to discuss all this. Even if the CEO does not want to be bothered with individual tasks, you should outline your concerns and possible solutions, as described in your question, and ask how you should handle things.

The key point is: If the CEO wants you to accept responsibility, he needs to delegate appropriate authority to you. In this case, that would be the authority to ask for and enforce deadlines.

  • I think this is a perfect answer.
    – kaboom
    Jul 29, 2016 at 2:20

Why are tasks being delegated via the CEO's assistant rather than employees' supervisors?

Assigning work and then managing the performance of that work is (usually) what the supervisor is supposed to do. If that is the expectation in your workplace, a CEO bypassing the chain of command to assign tasks directly is dysfunctional (though fairly common).

It may be that this is the reason things are not getting done: these ad hoc requests from outside the normal path are disruptive to employees, and interfering with accomplishing their primary tasks as assigned by their supervisors.

I suggest talking to the supervisors...but not primarily about the problem of employees not doing the tasks.

Instead, talk to them about how these assignments from the CEO are perceived and whether they interfere with other work. If there is a problem, work on a plan on how these can get integrated into the normal workflow in the future.

It's quite likely that you should be bringing these tasks to the supervisor of the relevant employee, rather than to the employee directly. If so, you can communicate to the supervisor why this is important, and also you can get some feedback if adding a task creates a capacity problem and endangers other work.

One question would be whether to bring this up to the CEO as well. Given your description of the CEO as hands-off, it is probably just something you can take initiative to do. But it may be important for either you or the supervisors to discuss it with the CEO (especially if the ad hoc requests are making it difficult to manage the work).

  • It should be pointed out that there are different way of organizing work assignment. At my place, it's not the supervisor who organizes work, but product managers and team together (who are all peers in the disciplinary sense). Still, your point stands - find out what the structure is like at the company and work with it.
    – sleske
    Jul 29, 2016 at 7:42
  • @sleske, fair enough. I have added a bit of qualification to my answer.
    – user45590
    Jul 29, 2016 at 7:48

When you delegate the work to your co-workers you need to be very clear and make them understand that job needs to be completed within the mentioned time, also you can brief them about importance of completing the job on time and its impact in general and how it affects overall progress of the project.

Also motivation is very important for any person, you can start talking with them in a friendlier way to know what exactly is making them not to finish there job on time, it can be due to personal problems or some other problems related to work itself.

You should also think about work load distribution, is that particular employee been burdened by more work Or is he doing some complicated work which is consuming more time in which case is there any necessity of providing assistance to him which will ease him/her to complete the work on time.

These are only few hints, but before talking to there supervisors we need to make sure delay is not happening deliberately due to laziness.

Since here you are dealing with human beings we need to take a call on case to case basis.

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