Do you know that 56.7 million Americans were working as a freelancer in 2018?
According to Upwork’s 5th Annual Report, that’s a boost of 3.7 million since 2014. Ever wondered why the number of freelancers is increasing every year?
The answer is simple. Nobody likes to have a boss or manager hovering over their shoulders all the time. What will you do if you have to deal with more than one boss?
Most employees are obligated to report to their boss or the immediate in-charge on a regular basis. However, there are plenty of organization where they have more than just one boss to look after the operations.
Multiple bosses mean multiple opinions. And if those bosses do not communicate with each other, it is the employees who suffer.
If you’re employed at such an organization, you may need more than just hard work and dedication to survive the toll.
Here are some effective tips that can help you handle multiple bosses like a pro.
1) Identify the chain of command
When you have multiple bosses to report to, you need to figure out the chain of command. It is because in most cases there is only one ultimate boss who has the final word on work-related matters. Once you have an idea about who reports to whom, you can prioritize your workflow accordingly. You can figure it all out by learning how your management team is structured.
You can ask a few questions to the right people to learn who reports to whom, and then follow that chain to the top. When you know who wields the most power in the company, you can work accordingly. However, it is essential to work hard and appease all the bosses. If any of them is not happy with your performance, you can still face serious consequences.
2) Find out what your bosses want
In order to serve all your bosses seamlessly, you need to understand what each of them expects of you. Firstly, you should monitor the management style of each of the bosses. In case it isn’t clear to you, communicate with your bosses to understand what they want from you. Communication is the key to dealing with multiple bosses at one organisation.
You need to identify which means of communication is best for each boss. If one of your bosses works remotely from another location, asking him to join for a physical meeting is a waste of energy. You can get him/her on the phone or join a meeting using video calling.
Furthermore, if there is any problem with any of the projects, let the bosses know about it. There is no reason to keep any of them blindsided.
3) Let your bosses know about your workload
It is absolutely necessary to let your bosses know what you are working on at a given point of time. Unless you make them aware of your workload, they may burden you with other responsibilities which you may not be able to fulfill. If they are informed that you already have your plates full, they won’t make unreasonable demands.
While talking to your bosses, you need to be very professional with your approach. You do not want to make it look like you are complaining to them. You can tell them that you’ll be working on a different project the next week. So, it will not be possible for you to invest time on another project. You can keep all your bosses in the loop about the projects to avoid miscommunication.
4) Clarify your roles and responsibilities
Reporting to multiple bosses is certainly a hectic job. And it is quite natural to feel confused about what you are supposed to do at the initial phase of the job. Invest time in understanding your roles and responsibilities in the organisation. Once you have clarity of your roles and responsibilities, you should also let your bosses know about them. Ask them if you are right about the roles/responsibilities.
You can sit down and calculate who in your department should be doing what work. Also, see how the percentage of work should be done by you. Note down your functions and compare it with the expected role you were asked to play by the company during the time of hiring. Unlike a freelancing ghostwriter, you are obliged to comply with all the duties outlined in your contract.
5) Ask for group meetings
Communicating with the individual bosses about your work may not always be enough. You might have to ensure that they all have information about your work by including them all in a conversation. Ask for a group meeting with all the bosses. This may help you bring them all on the same page. Also, it may help you streamline your work for each of the bosses with the approval from others.
Since the bosses usually have a busy schedule, you may need to notify them beforehand. Talking to all the bosses under the same roof can resolve all your confusions and queries that might have been weighing you down. If there is a conflict between your bosses, don’t try to interfere or choose sides. This will only add to your problems.
6) Personalize your work-related problems
If things start to go south, it may not necessarily be your fault. As mentioned earlier, working for multiple bosses at the same time can be hectic. And under such immense pressure, things can go wrong very easily. What you can do to solve this mess is to take a step back and analyse what went wrong. If it was your fault, work on it. And if it isn’t your doing, address the issue and work with others to resolve it.
It is important to disengage yourself from work once you leave the workplace. You can do something refreshing or rewarding to keep yourself sane. When your mind is relaxed, you are more likely to tackle work-related problems with efficiency. Your problem-solving skills can get you to places if you can impress multiple bosses with your work.
7) Set boundaries
In order to stay sane in a challenging work environment, you need to set up some boundaries. It is quite effective if one or more bosses like to micromanage your work. For instance, you can schedule a quiet time when nobody interrupts you. This can enhance your productivity at work. Obviously, you need to talk with the bosses before doing something like this. If they are not unreasonable, they will understand.
Obviously, you cannot just tell your bosses to “Do not disturb while I write my paper.” That’s not just unprofessional but also impolite. Ask them politely and act professionally when you want them to agree to your proposition. Also, don’t blame your bosses for anything that didn’t go according to the plan. Instead, tell them how you wish to do things better.
8) Stick to a schedule
When you are working for multiple bosses, there’s one thing for sure. You will never have any dearth of projects to work on. The challenge is to finish each of the projects on time and start the next one as soon as possible. Creating a schedule for each month can help you plan your actions needed for each of the tasks. Also, you can improvise your work according to the schedule.
If you have less work at one point in the month, you can plan a short trip to somewhere nearby and get some relaxation. This may help you reduce stress. Also, getting a break from work every once in a while can rejuvenate your mind, and help you perform better when you resume your work.
No one can assure you that working under multiple bosses is going to be a cakewalk. The best you can do to ease the pressure is to manage your work efficiently while complying with the orders from each of the bosses. With the aforementioned tips, you will definitely find it easier to survive in the workplace without getting into any trouble.