Top Tips On Working With Multiple Managers

There are always issues when working with (and juggling!) multiple managers. Whether it’s who’s needs are great, who’s work is more important, your own organisational skills, and your relationship with each of them – all of this can effect the way you are effective in working with multiple managers.

After numerous conversations over the years of how best to deal with this, and a little google magic, here are a few of the ways of how to manage multiple managers, and be effective.

  1. Set your boundaries. It’s important to have the conversation early on (or maybe after a few years if you are there now) to understand what behavior is appropriate and what isn’t. For example, allowing them to bring you work half an hour before the end of day that will mean you need to stay at least an hour after the day finishes. Their salary includes overtime, remember, yours may not. You can set this boundary by letting them know if in general you are happy to stay up to half an hour or an hour on occasion but more than once a week you would expect to be compensated (if you are willing to stay as long as you are paid). This also helps not show favouritism if you are constantly staying because of one manager.
  2. Allocate time to each manager each week You may decide to do this daily with a 5-minute chat to discuss their priorities that day will go a long way to helping you organize your day. But if you also block out an hour each week that is solely for them, they will feel appreciated and it’s fair for them all, even if they don’t use the hour. You can use this hour for continuing their tasks.
  3. Have clear to-do lists for each manager with deadlines. With a never-ending to-do list, it’s important to understand that you cannot get through everything they throw your way. So make sure you have a list of their tasks with their deadlines, so you can prioritise what’s important. When you catch up with them at the start of each day, let them know the one priority you are working on for them and the ones to follow if you have time, and its up to them to advise if you need to re-prioritise or they want to introduce something new.
  4. Set meetings with yourself. Use Outlook and block out chunks of time to deal with tasks, and chunks of time to deal with your (and their) inbox. As humans, we tend to be responsive and reactive to the little email pop-up or ‘ding’ every time we get a new email. Those emails will still be there in an hour, and if it was really urgent they would have called (or you let them know to call). So, do not distract yourself from your task, shut your emails down and focus on tasks at hand in blocks of time.
  5. Aim to get through one priority task for each manager per day. ust one. Anything is a bonus, but if you fill your ‘Todays To-Do List’ too full and don’t complete what you set out for, you are constantly setting yourself up for failure and leaving work feeling as such. Be realistic, your managers won’t manage your time and tasks, you need to do this.
  6. Communicate! If they ask you for something urgent, but you are in the middle of another task, you can ask them ‘How urgent is urgent? Happy to prioritise this over your other task, but I am in the middle of something for xx but I can get to it by xx time.’ They don’t know what work you have on, so you need to make sure you communicate to them. And if two managers (on the same seniority level) have ‘urgent’ priorities, ask them politely to discuss with one another who’s takes precedence. And remember, CEO comes first 😉
  7. Adapt to be effective! Although you need to create boundaries and call the shots to manage your time, you do need to learn to adapt to fit in with them. Do they like print-outs of things, when is the best time to ask them for things you need approval on, do they want things to be mega-organised or are happy to go with the flow. Each manager is different, so be prepared that what you might do for one, you won’t necessarily do for another. In saying that, not a lot of managers or executives have had training with an assistant, so feel free to point out ways you may be able to assist and help them be more effective – but of you get rejected, do not take it personally, each individual works differently.

Do you have any top tips that have been missed out? Reach out to us on our social media pages (LinkedIn and Facebook) and let us know – it’s a great way to start a discussion and get tips from other like minded individuals!

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