A – Z Pearls of Wisdom

J is for Juggling the demands of more than one boss!*

Many PAs are in roles where they are supporting more than one boss, having to juggle their time efficiently and effectively and remain calm under pressure.

The key to successful management of the demands of more than one boss comes down to great communication - with those you are supporting and with yourself!

Here is a list of useful techniques to help you successfully work with multiple bosses:

• Speak to each of your bosses individually to ensure they are aware of your workload and the fact that you are assisting other people. At the same time, assure them that you appreciate that their demands are important. Share with them the fact that you want to be as effective and efficient as possible - ultimately you are all working towards the same goal of a smooth working relationship.

• Become familiar with the preferred workings of each boss - people work and 'tick' in different ways, and each boss may have different expectations of you. You know which boss is happy with you typing up a report and circulating it without them even looking over it for final approval. Likewise, you know the boss who will want to tweak that report (for the fifth time!) before it gets circulated.

• Verbally repeat your boss's demands to them to ensure you have understood their request correctly. Never assume anything!

• Always ensure you know when the deadline for a task, project or request is so you can prioritise tasks and demands accordingly. In theory, it's great to have a prioritised work list for the day (or week) ahead. However, in practice, we know that this list will constantly change - just as you've just put together a prioritised list one of your bosses will appear with a mini-emergency that needs your assistance! You need to be able to re-jig the list and be flexible in your approach.

• If you are lucky enough to have others who can help you in the office, delegate some of your workload.

• When you have completed a project or demand, ask your boss for feedback. What would they have done differently? More of? Less of? Remember that good feedback is given to help your personal development and you have a choice what to do with this feedback!

• If a project or task didn't quite live up to your expectations, hold the belief that 'there is no failure, only feedback'. Ask yourself: 'what would I have done differently knowing what I know now?' And 'how can I learn from this experience for the future?'

• Remember: you are one person with two hands - there is a limit to the tasks that you can fit into a working day. Be realistic with your own expectations for working your way through that prioritised list. Be prepared to say 'no' if you can't meet a demand or request - saying 'no' and providing alternative suggestions is a skill in its own right.

• Take inspiration from Mary Poppins! While watching this all-time classic film with my six-year-old daughter I took inspiration from Mary Poppins, before she burst into song:

'In every job that must be done,
There is an element of fun.
You find the fun, and snap!
The job's a game.
And every task you undertake
Becomes a piece of cake
A lark, a spree it's very clear to see
That a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down'

Hold the thought that, if you approach a task or demand in the right frame of mind, with a 'spoonful of sugar' then it can become 'a piece of cake'!

There is a great saying by Henry Ford that 'if you believe you can or believe you cannot do something, either way you are likely to be right'. Approach all tasks in a 'can do' mind-set and you are well on the way to achieving great things and being able to juggle those demands.

*(this article originally appeared in Executive Secretary Magazine 7th August 2012)

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About the Author:  
Lindsay Taylor grew up in Hong Kong and has worked as an Executive Assistant in both the UK and the US. She now runs Your Excellency Limited, delivering training and coaching to administrative professionals around the world. Lindsay is renowned for developing and delivering the workshop “Be a PA with PA – Perfect Awareness”, an inspirational day of learning for PAs serious about creating and maintaining a professional identity and working with effectiveness and efficiency.  Lindsay is a member of the Association for Coaching and supports continuing professional development.  
Over the years, Lindsay has collated a wealth of input from the professionals she has worked with, and the information she now holds forms the basis for The A-Z Pearls of Wisdom.
Lindsay adores the experience of working in different cultures and meeting new people.  She thrives on being busy – approaching everything she does with energy, drive and a real zest for life.
To contact Lindsay, please click here.