Tips for Working with Multiple Bosses

By Erin Coursey, iHire
Picture of diverse group of management team members

Many administrative assistants report to more than one manager at some point in their careers. Juggling instructions from multiple sources can be stressful and overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be! Here are some tips for successfully navigating your workload.

Stay Organized

Organization is one of the most important skills at an administrator’s disposal. From to-do lists and deadlines to records and project planning, a robust, easy-to-use system helps ensure that you don’t overlook anything.

An essential piece of this is planning. Consider how you will approach large projects long before their due dates and schedule smaller tasks as they need to be accomplished. Address any scheduling conflicts immediately, and make sure to note any upcoming deadlines that occur close to one another.

Prioritize        

Prioritized lists and spreadsheets can provide structure for making decisions regarding when and how to tackle various tasks. Time-sensitive goals should be considered high priority in order to guarantee that they are finished on schedule. Also take the assigning manager’s rank into account, completing senior personnel’s projects first when possible. If you are unsure of how something should be prioritized, just ask!

Maintain a Professional Demeanor

A calm and respectful approach is key when reporting to multiple managers. Not only will it reflect well on you and your eagerness to work, but a clear head also promotes good judgement and increases problem-solving abilities. Additionally, remaining respectful in difficult situations preserves positive working relationships that are valuable for maintaining smooth day-to-day processes in the office. These connections may even serve as sources for references during future job searches.

Communicate

Communicate regularly with each boss to make sure that you are completing your tasks correctly and within acceptable timeframes. It is also a good idea to get to know each boss and his/her personal preferences and objectives so that these can direct your future work. For example, one may appreciate daily reports, while another might want to see only the completed project.

It is also beneficial to encourage direct communication between managers. This allows them to coordinate their priorities and minimizes errors caused by information exchange between too many people. Such transparency may even help to reduce scheduling conflicts and moderate your workload even before it reaches your desk.

Have a Can-Do Attitude… Within Reason

While being proactive and hardworking is certainly important, undertaking too many assignments will cause you to become overwhelmed and unproductive. Be honest with your bosses (and yourself!) about your current workload and how much you can manage. Be ready to say “no” if asked to take on more than you can reasonably handle. Setting boundaries early in your relationship with a new boss is an excellent first step.

 

Sources:

How to Juggle Multiple Bosses without Dropping the Ball

How to Report To Multiple Bosses

Karen Porter – Eight Skills and Traits Administrative Assistants Need to Work for Multiple Managers and Executives

Amy Gallo – Managing Multiple Bosses

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