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Answering to multiple bosses

Answering to multiple bosses

As organisations continue to replace traditional corporate hierarchies with flatter team structures, and as companies become increasingly global with operations taking place in different countries and time zones, there’s a sharp rise in the number of people who are reporting to not one, but multiple, bosses and senior stakeholders.

This setup might mean greater freedom and the opportunity to get involved in a number of exciting projects - but it also means you could easily find yourself caught in the crossfire when your bosses don’t see eye to eye.

Here’s some useful tips for handling the often-contrasting demands of multiple bosses:


Adapt to different leadership styles.

Every leader has their own style, and while some may be more effective than others, it’s up to you to learn their individual preferences and working patterns, and adjust your approach accordingly to ensure you get everything you need from them.

For instance, some leaders might prefer it when you bring problems to them directly as soon as they occur, while others might prefer a solutions-led approach to problem-solving.


Encourage communication between your bosses.

When working for multiple bosses, it’s easy to get put in the position of having to report one boss’s agenda to the other – and sometimes even having to defend it.

Avoid getting put in this difficult situation by setting up regular meetings, facilitating daily scrums, or creating direct conversations between the two parties through email, instant messaging tools or platforms like Slack.


Don’t be afraid to have a voice.

Regardless of if you’re a manager with decade’s worth of experience, or a newbie fresh out of university, being honest and forthcoming with your boss can be a daunting task – particularly when multiple bosses are involved.

But remember, you haven’t been hired to go about your job mindlessly – you’ve been appointed to do your best, and that occasionally involves speaking and sharing your opinion. And, chances are, your boss(es) will respect you for it.


Keep everyone up to date.

One of the main problems workers have when reporting to multiple bosses is the lack of understanding around their time constraints. As each boss is only aware of the tasks or responsibilities they’ve handed your way, they won’t understand any of the tasks you’re carrying out and might expect things to be done immediately.

Actively communicate with everyone about the projects or campaigns you’re working on, and even if they don’t budge on the time constraints, they might at least be a little more accommodating in the long run.


Look after yourself, too.

If you find yourself being constantly interrupted by your many, many, bosses, don’t be afraid to put some time aside to camp out in one of the office meeting rooms, or escape the office altogether and go to a café around the corner, in order to get everything done on time.

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