10 Tips to Manage Multiple Bosses

Position Ignition LogoBy Simon North, Founder of Position Ignition and the Career Ignition Club.

It never used to be like this. Way back when organisations were much simpler, there was clear hierarchy and you knew who your boss was and what they required. Today, along with flatter structures we also have the complexity of organisational shape, which is driven by globalisation and multi-regional operations. So how in this environment can we manage more than one goal at the same time?

1.      Find Out Who Matters

When you have more than one boss it’s really useful to know how many you actually have. Sometimes you can get into trouble when you don’t do something for somebody and you don’t even realise they were part of your matrix. In other words it’s only when you get it wrong that you realise.

2.      Get to Know Them

Spend time with those who you’re working for to and fro. The more you understand them in a holistic way, the more you will understand their needs.

3.      Cater to Their Needs

Quite often, those who you work for have different styles and different expectations. This is particularly true when these bosses have different geographies and come from different backgrounds. You need to be sensitive when it comes to individual requirements and service them the best that you can.

4.      Understand the Organisation

The more you can understand the organisation, its remit and its shape, the better you can understand how you can survive and thrive within it.

5.      Identify Strengths and Weakness

When you are working for multiple bosses it is likely that your strengths and your weaknesses will be put to good use. You won’t have a problem with your strengths but you might need to think about how to get some help if your weakness leave you exposed.

6.      Form Alliances

Managing multiple bosses implies complexity of organisational structure and there should be greater scope for you to form alliances that will help you do your job and satisfy the needs of those that you work for. Quite often these will be informal alliances that just require you to put in time and effort.

7.      Practice Contracting

Be clear about the outcomes required by each of your bosses and the frequency with which they require these outcomes to be met. The clearer you can be with them, the more likely you can see the impending issues of not being able to meet expectations. You can head these issues off at the pass.

8.      Deliver on Time

There’s no comeback to a subordinate if they deliver what is required on time. It takes the stress away from the boss that’s managing them.

9.      Remember: The Earlier, the Better

If you’re a boss and your employee provides information earlier than expected, so long as it covers all the ground and is correct, that’s brilliant. And it is even more impressive when you know that they are working for multiple bosses.

10.  Make Them Feel Special

It becomes a self-reinforcing cycle of positive feedback if all of your bosses believe that you only work for them. The level of performance that you are providing them with should be such that they never have any hassle with you and they never fret that you’re not going to be on time or produce work of a subpar quality.

About the author

Simon North is the Founder of Position Ignition, one of the UK’s leading career consultancy companies which created the Career Ignition Club, a leading-edge online careers support and learning platform. Simon also authored their Up Your Game, Up Your Pay eBook. Follow him @PosIgnition

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