Career Testing
Career Testing
Career Testing
WORKPLACE / NOV. 14, 2014
version 4, draft 4

How to Manage Somebody Who Has Other Bosses Besides You

As a boss, you’ve got a number of employees working directly for you. They answer to you and you alone, meaning you have total control over the projects they are assigned, the workload they have to handle, and so on.

But what happens when you work with an employee who is also part of another department, or under the employ of another boss? It can lead to some serious frustrations and complications if you don’t handle it properly, so here are some tips to help you:

Don’t be an employee-hog

Just because you’re one of the bosses, that doesn’t mean you can take all of your employee’s time. Make sure that they have freedom to do the tasks their other boss has assigned, and don’t pile on so much work that they are overwhelmed.

Communicate with the other boss

If there is another boss in the picture, it’s CRITICAL that you communicate with him/her before adding to the shared employee’s workload. Perhaps that employee is in the middle of a time-sensitive project for another boss, and adding on a task to their already heavy workload can slow things down for both departments. Make sure to shoot an email or make a phone call to the other boss BEFORE you give the employee any added work.

Be clear about what is expected

This goes for your interactions with both the employee and the other bosses. This employee is part of your department for a very specific reason, so make sure that you know exactly what you can expect from that employee. Be clear with the other bosses about what you will be expecting from your shared employee, and understand what they will expect of him/her as well.

Give them time off

If you want the employee to be productive on your projects, it’s wise to give them a break every now and then. Allow them to take time off when they finish a project within the allotted deadline, as a sort of reward for their hard work. You won’t lose anything, but you’ll gain the appreciation and respect of your employee.

Ask them what they need

An employee with many bosses often feels overwhelmed, like they have to play the bosses off each other. Instead of adding to the problem, try to be the solution. Talk to the employee and see what they need to do their job better. They may just want a bit more autonomy, a new office supplies, or a change in their work schedule--whatever it is, try to accommodate it. A satisfied employee will always be more productive, particularly for the boss that makes them feel appreciated.

Train the employee

You may not be able to enroll the employee in a three-week training course due to their shared duties, but you can invest your time into mentoring and training them in the tasks they are doing. You can look into training for the employee, such as one or two-day seminars that they can attend. The more you train the employee, the more capable he/she will be at carrying out the tasks you want them to.

Make it an easy work climate

Don’t make your shared employee dread bringing problems or concerns to you, but make it easy for them. Be open, willing to listen, available for advice, and ready to negotiate.

Follow the tips above, and you’ll find that sharing an employee with other bosses can actually be a lot easier than you think!


Image: iStock

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