BLUF: Who is expected to set deadlines - my manager or I? If my manager consistently does not do so, is it acceptable to approach them with a request to agree on deadlines?
I am in a situation where I have 20+ initatives of varying length and importance that I need to be tackling - some of them now and others over the course of the performance evaluation cycle.
Upon reflection, I realized that my manager never sets any deadlines, except for things that she really wants done "by COB today". I am now stuck with 20+ items that need to be tackled at some point, but there is no clarity on whether they should be done in January or July.
To remedy this, I approached my manager yesterday and explained that I am having trouble finding enough time to work on my longer-term projects because dealing with the day-to-day business and short-term initiatives leaves almost no time to tackle the bigger things. I suggested that we have a meeting to review my list of projects, determine a) which ones are actually important, b) when they are due, and c) what, if any, trade-offs we need to make to meet the deadlines we agree on.
This sounded like a perfectly sensible and mature way of handling this to me ("Here's the problem, here's how I think we can fix the problem, here's where I need your help as my boss to make it happen") - but the "vibe" I get is that I was expected to prioritize and set deadlines independently, without consulting my boss. Unfortunately, prior experience suggests that she rarely "owns" the deadlines she herself sets, never mind those set by her direct report without consulting her.
I already have a lesson learned (namely, whenever she asks me to work on something that can't be done in half a day, I'll ask for a concrete deadline and, upon receiving it, indicate whether it's possible in view of the other deadlines she had set for me, or if we need to move something to make it possible).
However, I wonder if I was wrong from the start in the expectation that it is a manager's job to set deadlines, especially for longer-term projects where I may not have enough information to set a deadline independently without knowing fully the circumstances that led to the need for the project.
I also wonder if the way I handled the situation with my manager was professional and "adult", for lack of a better word.
Thanks a lot in advance!