Reporting to More than One Boss

One of the most difficult tasks is reporting to more than one boss, it can be two or more, based on the nature of work. You may prioritize your work but each boss wants his work or task or project to be completed first. The employee is puzzled as to what to do.

Life in the corporate world is full of challenges and opportunities. There are various rules and regulations in the professional world that one has to follow for the proper running of the business. It is the responsibility of the employee to follow the decorum of the office for a smooth running of official work. There are number of aspects that need to be handled regularly and reporting to the boss is one of them.

Sending reports to the boss makes work easy, organized and smooth, but when you have to send a report to more than one or more than two bosses, the situation become tricky for the employee. The trend of sending a report to multiple bosses is new, earlier there was only one head, now employees have to send reports to multiple executives and department heads.

The trends of reporting to more than two bosses is a clear influence of globalization in the corporate world. There are a number of MNC’s having their HQ and regional office at different places, it is the responsibility of the employee to keep the authority informed about the latest happenings and future plans.  Reporting is a form of communication between the employee and the authority; it is the regular reporting that helps the authority to assess the situation and plan future strategies for the growth of an organization.  Report works as a bridge between the boss and the employee.  Some times when all your bosses are abroad and each is supervising your work on different aspects it becomes essential to manage your reporting with the utmost care.

Sending reports to more than two bosses could be intricate and if there is any issue between the employee and the executive or between executive A and executive B, then situation becomes very peculiar for the employee. One of the best ways to handle such situations is to discuss it clearly with your boss, explain it to Executive A that you will handle extra responsibility if he will inform Executive C about your new responsibility and priority and ask executive C if he can put some of her requirements on the back burner.

Another problem that an employee can face in reporting to more than two bosses is to prioritize the delegated task. Ask your boss to set the urgency of each task so that you can meet the deadlines without missing any important task.  Send a request sheet to your bosses and ask them to prioritize the task and rate every project’s priority on a scale of 1 to 5. The request sheets would also helped during the employee review by providing written validation of all the work he/she had accomplished and for whom.  Use that data to chart the percentage of time the employee devoted to each manager and month-to-month workload fluctuations.

Instead of asking for orders, learn to take decisions, evaluate the tasks, set the priority and try to finish it within the given time, it will show your interest and dedication towards your job. Seniors like employees who take initiative and take responsibilities. It helps in the smooth running of the schedule.

Though serving a number of executives is not easy, but it provides lots of exposure and opportunity within the organization. It gives you a chance to learn different working styles at a time and how to manage multiple tasks at a time. Sometime you have to choose one boss over the other, depending on your career growth.

If your relationship with either bosses is less than stellar, it is advisable that you research past business cycles to find circumstances similar to the ones you’re facing. “Two people with opposing viewpoints cannot both be absolutely right. You’ve got to apply your own business sense to the situation and come up with what you think is the best course of action”.

Each executive has a different working style and methodology, working with different bosses will give you a chance to learn. Such experience and knowledge can never be gained from books or from universities, practical work experience teaches a lot, if you are new to the field, learn from the experience of others and broaden your horizon. Face every tricky situation as your new lesson and try to learn from each experience- good or bad it will surely help you in evolving in to a successful professional.

One thing is certain that multi-reporting is not for a long tenure and at the most it will be for 2 years or even less. After this period is over you would be relieved and would have additional knowledge and also it would be easy for you to cope up with any situation. So do not take any hasty decisions during the multi-reporting period.

  • I think that reporting to multiple bosses doesn’t yield anything; instead there is a feeling of dual leadership leading to ambiguity and confusions. As every individual has a different style and class of working and dual reporting structure leads to different methodology and approaches for looking at the similar things.

  • Good one ! The matrix structure has its own advantages. The talent have the option to interact and learn from different managerial styles at the same time, it increases the job-pressure if not responded rightly.

  • Nemendrapachghare

    “Two people with opposing viewpoints cannot both be absolutely right. You’ve got to apply your own business sense to the situation and come up with what you think is the best course of action”.
    Yes it’s true in most of the situation and we need to consider the short term and long term implications of the decision. Short term may include the financial constraints and the end result effect may be the long term implication, and if an individual can successfully convince all bosses, it’s an achievement for him.
    While dealing with multiple bosses gives learning ability to handle the different temperaments, helping to take decision in long run but it’s also true that one has to priorities each individual boss, a bigger task.
    As Mr. Vidhyadhar commented is partly true , but duel leadership will be the just a perception of an individual because in most of such cases,
    1. Role and responsibilities impart duel leadership in the organization while an individual is working on two or more different jobs at a same time.
    2. Another factor is the individual’s work relationship with work associates, as it’s also one of the factors imparting dual leadership.
    In first cases when individual is reporting to two bosses, he is just communicating the work progress to one, who is directly related and the other about streamlining the task. And here he can receive the instructions in reply from the boss related to his assignments, who has been keeping posted for just information, again helping in work scheduling.

    In second case an individual may have good rapport with either of the bosses, may be next reporting one or the department head and here individual’s work relationship decide the communication leading dual leadership.

    So while working in the organization fortunately or unfortunately one has to face dual leadership, it is up to him how to get benefited from it as it is having pros and cons.

  • ajayi olufemi

    I am delighted reading the above topic, I have passed through it, it was a worthy experience, it also equip one with the ability to handle reports from juniors.

    ajayi olufemi
    abuja, nigeria

  • Basheer316

    I have personal experiences in Reporting to Multiple Bosses and yes I certainly agree with the above mentioned styles & patterns of reporting. Being in such role will be a part great exposure to organization and will add value in self career.

    Problems will always be there even when someone is reporting to a single head as well, however the real test of surviving can only be emphasized under Multi-Reporting.

  • Sunil Chaudhary

    Good interpersonal relations and smooth two-way communication is the key to work with multiple bosses, with lots of patience, persistence and ability to plan, organize and execute work.