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Tips on managing multiple bosses

Well, maybe at some period in your career life, you will have two or more bosses to report to. Last year it happened to me, but yet, it proved to be an interesting experience.

Nowadays, it’s increasingly common for people to have more than one boss. For instance, you may be on two project teams, each with its own project manager and yet report directly to a manager in your functional area.

Having multiple bosses provides a lot of opportunities since your boss are among compulsory network in your career networking, but also poses certain challenges. On the positive side, you often have significant autonomy over how and when you complete your assignments. On the negative side, you may run into scheduling issues if each boss demands more time than you have available.

To mitigate the risks and make your job and your bosses’ jobs easier:

  • Know who your ultimate boss is. While you may take direction from several managers, usually only one is responsible for your career within the organization. Find out about who completes your performance reviews, who contributes to them, and who makes decisions about promotions and compensation.
  • Be proactive about your workload. Be sure all of your bosses know everything you’re working on. Use a shared document or regular check-in meetings with your managers to communicate about your current projects and tasks.
  • Encourage your bosses to communicate. If your bosses’ expectations create work overload or conflicting priorities, involve them in solving the problem. Schedule a time for them to communicate directly, whether in person or electronically.
  • Set boundaries. If constant interruptions regarding one project prevent you from accomplishing your work on others, set times when you can focus on specific tasks without distractions.
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