Ever feel like you have five different people talking to you at once and no clue whom to answer first?
At the busy PR firm where I work as an intern, I answer to three or four account managers. And while we could look at the negatives – Am I going to disappoint someone? Have I got the priorities straight? – I’d rather focus on the positives. Through my work “managing my many managers,” I have developed strategies that I find helpful when trying to meet the demands of (all) those at the top.
Know who’s really in charge
While you may have several superiors, most people usually have one “direct report,” the person primarily responsible for supervising their work. Thus, when you begin working in an environment where you report to multiple individuals, be sure to ask questions about the organization’s structure for reporting. These questions will not only help you get a better perspective of the organization as a whole, but also shed some light on who is most responsible for your career path.
Make your workload known
Let your bosses know exactly what you are working on by checking in with them on a regular basis or by creating a shared document that details the progress of each task you’ve been assigned. This will not only will this allow you to keep tabs on your own progress, but it will also give you a prime opportunity to show you bosses what a nice little proactive employee you are.
Set up “Do Not Disturb” time
If you find that your managers frequently come to you and ask questions, consider asking if you can set up uninterrupted periods where you can simply keep your “nose to the grindstone” and work. This option can help you keep focused while also providing an opportunity to structure everyone’s day a bit better.
Don’t take it to heart
Don’t interpret a mounting workload as a sign that your boss is out to get you. Instead, try to be proactive about issues and tasks as they come up (they wouldn’t assign them to you if they didn’t think you were up to the challenge!)
Finally, don’t be afraid to speak up, ask questions and give status updates because communication is your best tool.
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