Working with multiple bosses is a line of fire you do not want find yourself dealing with; especially in toxic workplaces. Despite how great an organisations work policy might be, reporting to multiple bosses can be tasking because humans have an ego and sometimes, this ego can grow so large that it gets in the way of work.
In this piece, we will take a quick look at effective ways and tips to help you manage the delicate task of working with multiple bosses or having multiple reporting lines.
The workplace is filled with a lot of power-play and politicking. You have people trying to assert themselves and most times, in the wrong ways. The power-play culture of each organisation is unique to what it encourages and allows. Hence, you want to avoid playing into the hands of your multiple bosses using you as a puppet to show they are superior to one another.
Aisha is reporting to 3 bosses. She receives a request from one of her reporting lines demanding a task to be finished at a particular time for a project. Within the same period of time, another one of most senior managers and reporting line calls her in and requests that a not-so-urgent task needs to be completed.
She communicates that she has a project she was working on but instead of reviewing the timeline he has given her to deliver his task, the manager asks her who the task belongs to. When she communicates this to the manager, she (manager) still demands that Aisha goes ahead to complete her task immediately.
Fortunately, she emails her other boss saying there has been some delay with the requests she made to complete the tasks at the time requested and went ahead to complete the most senior manager’s tasks.
Aisha was smart and lucky – If she had failed to deliver on one or both tasks, it would tell on her performance review and affect her relationship with her managers but she managed the egos and office politicking to navigate such murky waters.
Working with multiple bosses would require you to maintain a certain level of professional relationship with all your bosses. You are human and may have a favourite manager but you should avoid either of them noticing this because the same people are bound to be mean to you once they notice you have more a personal relationship with another manager. This practice is more prevalent in a workplace where there is power play involved.
Don’t get personal or too emotional about the situation. Keep your tasks and relationship with them on a professional level.
To be successful at reporting to multiple bosses, which is never an ideal situation, you’ll have to raise your game at managing your their expectations. Learn what is expected of you in terms of tasks, projects, disruptive demands and timelines.
Managing expectations will require you to be smart with your work. If you can conclude a task in an hour, you might have to ask for 2 or 3 to allow for unforeseen circumstances. Ask for extended project deadlines, ask questions on what is required of you and ensure you are big on communication. Most importantly, test the waters and find what works for your situation.
Having multiple reporting lines can have its negative effects but it also has other career benefits. You’ll learn more about the differences in personalities and have more bosses to attest to the good or great work you do for reference. If you manage relating with your multiple managers well, it would earn your more leverage in their next work.
Find the lessons and the advantages of working with them today.