What to do When you Have More than One Boss to Report to?

1,717 Views Updated: 28 Nov 2017
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What to do When you Have More than One Boss to Report to?

Most of the professions existing today require the employees to report to more than one boss or supervisors or managers at different administration levels. Managing your bosses can get stressful, especially if there's a lack of transparency in communication between bosses or departments.

Your job may be dependent on how you manage your bosses and successfully meet the demands of each of them. Generally, all you need to do is navigate the chain of command, increase communication with your managers, and manage the stress of reporting to multiple bosses in order to keep them all happy and satisfied with your performance. Here are some tips that can help you if you have more than one boss to report to:

#1. Understand The Chain Of Command

Even if you are managing more than one boss, there will always be that individual who is your ultimate boss and who is capable of advancing or stalling your career. It is important for you to figure out the chain of command to know who ultimately has the final word on your matters. It’ll help you figure out the workflow and know whose decisions can outweigh others. Understanding the chain of command is crucial when you are required to report to more than one boss.

For doing so, you can start by asking queries related to the structure of the management. By looking into who reports to whom, you might be able to determine the chain of command at your company.

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#2. Each Boss Is Different

When you are dealing with more than one boss, you need to know that each boss will have their different style of working. While some may try to regularly check on you, others will step back and trust you to work as per your own understanding. Which style works for you is purely a matter of choice, but you’ll have to adjust and adapt to all the styles while managing your bosses. You can get an idea of how much your boss micromanages on the basis of how they communicate with you.

You can always talk to your boss if you are not clear about their style of working.

(Read Here: How To Handle A Micromanaging Boss?)

#3. What Do The Bosses Want?

When you are dealing with one or more than one boss, it is important for you to know what your bosses like. A big part of boss management will entail knowing what’s expected of you from each of your bosses. You can talk and clear out things if you are not sure about what any of your bosses want. Set realistic goals and objectives with your bosses. Don't set the bar too high; else you’ll always have to put your best foot forward even if you don’t wish to. But also, don’t play your abilities by keeping it too low.

#4. Boss, Boundaries Please!

If any of your bosses like to micromanage your work, you will eventually reach a point where your ability to work becomes restrictive because of their interruptions. If this happens, you will need to establish certain boundaries with your boss.

While you talk to your boss about it, be very careful and tactful to prevent any conflict or argument. Coming across as argumentative could cost you your job. Be polite and professional while asking your boss to have a word with you. Never pin the blame on your boss or accuse them of doing anything wrong. Frame the conversation in a way that it focuses on how you’ll be able to work better in a free environment where you are free to take a few decisions. Let your boss know if you need more or less management, but be very professional in your conversation. Once you discuss the matter regarding your boss’s management with them, things will smoothen out themselves during the next project. It will be much easier to transfer the boundaries and dynamics in your future projects.

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#5. Keep Them Posted

Dealing with multiple bosses is a job in itself. While one of your many bosses would want to meet you face to face for regular updates, the other might just be okay with mail updates. Your boss may want to micromanage your work or they may trust you to get the work done on time by yourself. Figure out what suits each of your bosses and work accordingly. You should also assess what communication method each boss prefers. Some might prefer a telephonic conversation, others may conduct meetings for the same and the rest may not be that concerned and let you independently work on the project.

#6. Got Any Problems?

You cannot expect your boss to understand your problems without you telling them. If you have any issues regarding their micromanaging or lack of supervision, just talk to them about it. Don’t avoid making the conversation to minimize your difficulties. Instead, ask for suggestions to fix your problems.

(Also, Read: How To Tell Your Boss You Are Not Happy At Work?)

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#7. You Are Loaded Too

You need to make your boss aware of your workload. They should be aware of what you are currently working on. This should include the work assigned to you by all your bosses and not just a particular one. None of your bosses will make unreasonable demands if they are aware of your workload. Managing your boss would not be much of a problem if they are aware of what all you are handling for them.

Never complain to any of your bosses about your workload from them or anyone else. Simply keep them in the loop. You can use an electronic calendar to mark all your deadlines, meetings, and work progress. This will help you to conveniently manage all your bosses.

#8. Group Meetings, What’s Say?

The best way to manage more than one boss is by holding group meetings. This way you’ll able to address all your bosses together and will be able to avoid repeating the same things again and again to each of them. It will also give them a chance to communicate with each other. Let each boss know that a group meeting would make it easier for you to perform optimally.

Let your suggestions be very polite and professional. They are your bosses and you cannot command them, but only make a request. Having your bosses communicate with one another, either informally or through regular meetings, could also help in making your obligations to each one of them very clear.

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#9. What Are Your Roles And Responsibilities

If you are managing more than one boss at a time, it is obvious for you to feel confused about what’s expected of you and by whom. Clarifying your roles and responsibilities with each of your bosses will help in making things clear and easier for you. It will also take away the stress off of working with multiple managers.

For doing so, you can write down all your roles and responsibilities and what you believe should be your primary focus. If you feel that you have been unnecessarily loaded with responsibilities, delegate them to your subordinates.

When you clarify your roles with your managers, both of you will be able to get a better understanding of your responsibilities.

#10. Keep It Professional

As a professional, it is your responsibility to not internalize your work-related problems. There could be times when your stress makes you blame yourself for everything that goes wrong. Don’t let your workplace problems affect you on a personal level. It can help if you remember that your workplace problems are most likely a result of your circumstances at the workplace and have nothing to do with your personal life.

Step back and question yourself whether you actually did anything wrong. Find ways to unfasten from your work at the end of the day. Get involved in something exciting and involving to take your mind off the work pressure.

If reporting to multiple bosses is stressful, it can also be potentially advantageous to you. You can use them to advance your own career and get professional favors from each one of them as and when needed. Find ways to make allies with as many of your bosses as you can. Spend more time and energy getting to know the boss or bosses.

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Do you feel stressed in managing more than one boss? Let us know in the comment section below. We would love to know your thoughts and opinions.

(Image Courtesy: 1. The Balance, 2. The Balance, 3. LinkedIn, 4. CCL, 5. The Balance: The Balance(Featured Image Courtesy)

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