Is the most effective way to assign work to state:

a. Can you have this to be by 3pm on Tuesday?


b. When can you get this to me?

During the first part of the cast, there is a thorough discussion about the negative effects of "When can you get this done". The more effective way is to ask "When will you get this to me". Later in the cast, there is discussion of ensuring you ask for a day/time. I am wondering which way is the more effective.

I think if you state "B", then you are leaving it open to a negotiation. If I was the direct and answered Thursday at 11. Then  was overruled by the boss stating Wed. at 10, then I'd be a bit annoyed. As a direct, I would wonder, why does he even ask me?

On the other hand, if you go with "A", it may come of as dictorial, and heavy-handed.




mattpalmer's picture

Which question to ask is entirely dependent on how flexible you can be with the answer that comes back.  If you need something done by a certain time, then ask to make sure it can be done by that time.  For example, if you need to present the report to your boss at 2pm Thursday, and you really need two hours to review it and become familiar with the contents, then you'd ask "Can you have this to me by midday Thursday, so I can get familiar with it before presenting it to my boss?"  I add the second part because it communicates *why* that deadline is important, as well as the deadline itself, but if you think it dilutes the impact of the main question ("Can you get it to me by X?"), then you can add that information before the question or remove it altogether.

On the other hand, if you just need it done in a reasonable timeframe, then you can ask "When can you get this to me?".  You're not absolutely bound by the direct's answer, though.  If they say "I should be able to get it to you by 2pm on September the 21st, 2019" (to use a fairly ludicrous example), you'd probably explain why that time won't work for you ("I'll be on holidays then", for example).  So if you don't like your direct's answer, you're perfectly within your rights to negotiate somewhat.  "That's quite a way out; I was hoping to have it done by the end of the week.  Is there other stuff we can reprioritise to get this work done sooner?"