4 Tips for Managing Multiple Supervisors

Image courtesy of Evil Erin's photostream

Image courtesy of Evil Erin’s photostream

It is very likely now-a-days for someone to report to more than one supervisor. Learning how to handle multiple supervisors is an essential skill in today’s complex business world. If confronted with this type of situation, it is important to ensure that each of your supervisors understands that you have multiple reporting responsibilities to help set expectations and availability.

When someone is employed to work for multiple supervisors, it is imperative for them to:

Recognize the challenges you face – There are numerous challenges that will arise when someone is reporting to more than one person. The two main ones are:
•    You will get overloaded. Working a normal pace job reporting to one supervisor is usually a busy day but adding another superior or two to that mix will make matters even more complex.
•    Your supervisors may have conflicting messages. Different bosses often have different expectations, impressions, etc. Get to know your bosses and pay attention to their preferences.

Identify your primary supervisor – Be sure to ask a lot of questions about the reporting structure; for example who will complete your reviews, makes decisions about your compensation, promotions, and so on. Once you target who your primary supervisor is let the others know that if they require something from you it may not take priority.

Project priority can be complicated – Having good time management, organization and multi-tasking skills will be extremely important to make sure you stay on top of the projects you receive.  Keep a task list of all the projects with superiors names, dates assigned and dates they need to be completed so you know what to focus on.

Some cases my arise where your primary manager hands you a project that has a tight timeline and you were working on another project for a different manager. Explain to the secondary manager that this project came up suddenly and you will return working to their project once you have completed the new assignment.

Communication between management is key – Working for multiple supervisors is like being a part of a love triangle. It can be exhausting if you don’t step in and say that they need to figure out who has priority over your work load. Schedule a meeting with everyone that you report to and bring a list of your daily job functions so everyone can see everything you do for the other parties involved.

If you’ve never worked for multiple supervisors, remember that even if you’re an efficient multi-tasker, you’re never going to be Superman. Keep these tips in mind to get started on the right foot and ultimately help you keep your sanity.

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