How to Balance The Demands of Multiple Bosses

Lauren Krause
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Working for one boss can be a challenge — let alone multiple bosses. When you report to more than one person, the burden often falls on you to manage each set of responsibilities effectively. To avoid getting torn in two different directions, take steps to keep everyone aligned and working toward the same goals.

The first step in balancing multiple bosses is communication. In an ideal world, each of your supervisors would be on the same page. Unfortunately, the opposite is often true. If your bosses do not communicate with each other, you must take the initiative to keep everyone in contact. Create a shared calendar so each person can see your schedule and expected milestones. Block in time for each project to give your supervisors an idea of your current workload. Be as specific as possible, and don't be afraid to ask your bosses to work together to prioritize your tasks.

Each of your bosses is likely to have a unique communication style, and it is up to you to understand each one. Pay special attention to preferences. If one boss prefers to receive updates by email, you can avoid irritating him with constant phone calls or visits. Take note of each person's style. Who prefers to get right to the point? Who likes to spend time chatting? Who tends to skirt the issue or give indirect clues to what he really wants? By paying attention to verbal and non-verbal cues, you can communicate effectively and efficiently with each boss.

When you are dealing with multiple bosses, it is not uncommon to deal with identical deadlines or conflicting requests. In this situation, it is crucial to find out if any of your supervisors can adjust their deadlines. Explain the situation, and offer a suggestion for an alternate timeline. Avoid declining a request outright; always come prepared with another solution. According to Forbes magazine, this method will help you understand which of your bosses are flexible.

Time management is crucial for people with multiple bosses. When you report to more than one person, professional demands can get out of control quickly if you don't keep them in check. Keep a running calendar that tracks each project. Include short- and long-term milestones so that you can spot potential scheduling issues in advance. Finish each task as quickly as possible — procrastination is dangerous when you are juggling multiple projects.

No matter how hard you try to balance multiple bosses, chances are that one person has seniority. It is in your best interest to identify the power hierarchy from the beginning. In the case of a deadlock, complete the work in order of priority to avoid angering influential people.

Juggling multiple bosses often leads to increased professional demands. By taking the initiative to manage the situation and stay on top of your workload, you can keep each of your supervisors happy.


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