Meeting the demands of one boss can be challenging at times. Add a second boss into the mix and chances are you’ll feel pulled between the two at least occasionally. Try these tips to keep everyone happy with your work.
Sit Down Together
If you’re feeling pulled or you’re getting mixed messages, ask to sit down with both of your bosses. Going back and forth between the two managers is inefficient and may result in communication problems. Schedule a time with all three of you can dedicate attention to the matter.
Let your bosses know that you’re feeling conflicted with the duties and messages you’re receiving. Ask them to clarify the parts of your job that are causing the most conflict. Create a breakdown that shows who you report to for specific aspects of your job and the amount of time you should spend on each boss’s projects.
Don’t be afraid to let your bosses know what you have going on. If you have a huge project with an imminent deadline from one boss, let the other know about it. Encourage the bosses to talk to one another directly when assigning projects and deadlines. They both likely want you to focus on their projects, but you can’t always put both of them first. When they communicate, they can get a better sense of what you have on your plate and what they can each assign to you.
Getting your bosses to talk directly can also reduce the risk of messing up the messages. If you’re constantly relaying messages between the two, there is bound to eventually be some miscommunication. In those situations, you can come off looking bad, as if you were trying to cause conflict.
Use what you discuss with your bosses to allocate your time. You’ll need to keep accurate records and schedules to juggle the multiple deadlines and projects. Prioritize the job duties you have at any given time based on deadlines and importance of the tasks. Let your bosses know your general schedule. For example, you might typically work on one boss’s projects in the morning and the other’s in the afternoon. Letting your bosses know this schedule helps them know when to contact you.
A quick way to get yourself into trouble is to talk about your bosses behind their backs. It’s tempting to complain about one boss to the other. Or one boss might badmouth the other for monopolizing too much of your time. Avoid the temptation to jump in on the bashing. Remain neutral so you don’t say something that comes back to haunt you.