Having one manager is hard enough, and yet some Virtual Assistants are working with multiple managers. For example, you have one direct supervisor, but many people you regularly report for different aspects of your job. This means you navigate a wide array of challenging personalities, conflicting priorities, and competing demands; therefore, the right strategies can prevent a negative effect on your ability to perform. These three methods will help you stay productive and maintain your productivity in your role working with multiple managers.
One of the most common challenges is that of determining whose projects or tasks to prioritize. Often, different managers have different ideas of what’s essential. It adds stress when they all think their items should land at the top of your to-do list.
If you feel pulled in multiple different directions at once while working with multiple managers, it’s time to set out your big-picture priorities. Make others understand that you have to divide your time and attention.
Sit down with each person and talk to them to understand your workload. Don’t be afraid to negotiate requirements and push back on requests when needed. Help establish reasonable expectations based on your judgment.
Avoid playing favourites and prioritizing the work of one manager above others simply because you like the best. Be honest and let each person know where their items land on your priority list and why. If there is an issue, facilitate a group discussion to get everyone on the same page.
Different managers likely have other communication preferences, work styles, and personalities. Working with multiple managers, you need to adapt your approach to the person. One manager may want to be deeply involved in all aspects of the work you do for them, while another may encourage independence. It’s up to you; determine what each manager wants and customize your strategies.
Seldom will you find two managers with the same style of management. However, if you find out their style, you can improve the way you interact with that manager.
You will need to rely on your emotional intelligence to do this effectively and hone these skills. You may need to set aside your work style preferences to create stronger relationships with your various managers. Challenging but well worth the effort.
“When in doubt, let the managers duke it out.” If you’re receiving conflicting information or instructions, it’s especially important that as a Virtual Assistant, you bring attention to it. Define the miscommunication and ask the managers to come to a consensus. If there is no single apparent authority, do not simply allow the loudest or most forceful person to “win.”
Working with multiple managers as a Virtual Assistant can be tedious, but remember: you’re not there to stroke anyone’s ego because you have a job to do. You’re answering to more than one person, and each has to respect this. Please don’t allow yourself to get dragged into conflicts between them. Instead, let your managers do their jobs and manage the situation.
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