Last month I asked everyone on the Practically Perfect PA social media platforms to give me their best tips on working with multiple managers. Here are the results. Enjoy… There are some brilliant tips here!

  1. Here are my best tips on working with multiple managers. I look for ways to develop/enhance strong people skills and master my emotions. Building on social awareness and constructive work relationships. The aim is to be able to synergise with the Execs and colleagues, using emotional intelligence skills to achieve a thriving and motivating work environment and build solid partnerships. I am also committed to being supportive of my Executive and his team with professional maturity. To have the perception to identify how, what, where and when they need my support is a skill I seek to refine. It is unlikely that I would be able to support everyone at once in my team, but it is also important that I am clear about how to negotiate that same support and manage our mutual expectations realistically and honestly.
  2. My best tips on working with multiple managers is to stay positive, work smart, keep the plates spinning by giving each one a bit of time every day, prepare well and my old school tip is one notebook and coloured pens.
  3. Working for 6 Directors allows me insight into different areas of the business. I agree stay positive and always have a ‘can do’ attitude… You never know where the next journey will take you.
  4. I manage 3 and i have learnt to manage their expectations, and ensure that not only do they know what they’re doing, but what I’m doing.
    i find it means they tend to give me more advanced notice on some of the things they have coming up and need from me!
  5. I rely heavily on Outlook to help with not only scheduling, but simple reminders, shared calendars, etc. Also, having full access to each person’s calendar is a must. If an exec is unexpectedly out of the office and a meeting that they scheduled needs to be cancelled, you can easily cancel it and manipulate their calendar. Outlook gives me life.
  6. Keep their worlds apart. Personal integrity is very crucial in a setup where you find yourself supporting more than two executives. You don’t want one Exec feeling neglected or that you favour one over the other or that you have a better relationship with one or the other. If you fairly distribute your attention, then you gain trust and respect from all the executives you support.
  7. I recommend this blog post from Edwina at Who’s the Real Boss.
  8. Just be polite when working with multiple managers. Manage time and organise your time. When asked for support ask when they want it for. Don’t be afraid to say that you are tied up with something else but will ensure their job is complete for when they want it. It’s about common sense and juggling your work, but at the same time time manage yourself. Just relax and don’t panic. Keep a daily to do list to start with and put a rough time of when you will complete each task. Once you get used to the directors and their expectations, you will realise that they never want the work when they say they do. But remember the CEO comes first.
  9. Patience, patience and patience
  10. One thing for me is being adaptable to their different styles and tailoring your style to suit theirs.
  11. Taking the time to build relationships and trust with those that you manage, is invaluable.
  12. Making the most of your time so that you’re not working over your hours. Make sure you’re up to speed with all aspects of their portfolios and not just parts of it.
  13. Most importantly, don’t spend your day thinking you have too much to do and that you don’t get paid enough for doing it. Grab hold of the opportunity and show your bosses and colleagues how well you manage your job and that you enjoy the challenge. Finally, don’t let the work stress you out, you’re human and you are only able to do as much as your day allows you to.
  14. Outlook is key for me with three executives. Putting reminders for myself and my exec’s is essential. Also getting to know their personalities is important, my exec’s have varying styles of ‘need’ for lack of a better word, knowing who needs to be kept on track with their calendars, who needs help with presentations – or who prefers to do that type of work themselves really helps to manage my time. But also being honest, I have been in time periods where I literally cannot do everything at once, and I know I might be in a minority here, but I have had exec’s helping me set up boardrooms when needed. I may work between three people, but they can’t chop me into three people.
  15. Be honest and speak up when you feel pressurised as they are fully aware that you do a really demanding role. Just remember they need us!
  16. I support a CEO (Operational) and a President (Strategic) so for me the key is keeping them as separate as possible. Both need different support to successfully complete their day.
  17. The ability to predict what may come next is a skill that is imperative to time management. E.g. Conference in another city – car checks, parking, roadworks, tolls, to try and think of any hurdles that may appear and having a ‘plan b’ really helps to maintain that level of calm when you’re juggling workload.
  18. A great can do attitude, collaboration skills and fantastic multitasking skills are what always get me going. Sometimes you may need to pull off complete candor when you are stretched a little bit, by practicing how to say NO in a good way.
  19. I believe the foundation of managing +1 Exec is an appreciation & understanding of the business as well as the executives’ roles & priorities along with their communication style. It’s helped me ‘to put out the fires’ and know what task should be elevated to – DO NOW!!! Mutual respect and collaboration also goes a long way, especially when there are competing deadlines/interests.
  20. Keep a different coloured folder for each executive and keep anything to do with them in that folder (if you are old-fashioned like me, also keep a paper list of questions to ask them).  Then when you talk to them you just have to pick up their folder and you don’t forget anything! If you are on Google calendar and are a real control freak try having the colour of the folder match the colour of their calendar.
  21. I work for several executives and find that they usually need me at different times (conveniently). But I recommend at the beginning of every week, letting them know which blocks of my time will be reserved especially for them (barring emergencies). Sometimes this needs to be negotiated week-by-week or even day-by-day. But I think they find it reassuring that they ‘own’ significant pieces of my time, and sometimes can even take it on themselves to negotiate with each other if they need to take someone else’s designated time.
  22. I think it’s reassuring to them when I speak highly of the other executives and don’t complain. If they never hear me talking someone down, they (maybe subconsciously) are reassured that I’m not complaining about them behind their backs, either.
  23. All your bosses think they are equally important. Stay calm and don’t panic with the amount of work coming in, sit back and assess the important tasks, take it from there.
  24. I have plastic legal folders for each executive.  In there, I keep information that needs to be followed up on, or items to discuss.  I have weekly meetings scheduled with each, for 1/2 hour to an hour each, different days, so I can catch up with them.
  25. I have a BF (bring forward) accordion folder for the days of the month, and another for the months of the year.  Anything that needs bringing forward is put in there and then each day, I go to that folder and pull out the documents.
  26. I have full access to their emails, calendars and contact lists.  All meetings are scheduled out of my calendar so that if there are any changes, I am “in control”.
  27. Talk to them!  They need to know what work/tasks you’re picking up for the others so if you’re limited for time/capacity they know about it. Or if their task is urgent they know to make sure you’re aware so can you factor in the time.
  28. Be honest with them – if they ask you to do something and it’s going to be an hour before you can look at it – make them aware. Also, if you’re struggling, let them know. If they think you’re coping they’ll keep putting work on you. If you need a bit of space, tell them – find out what work is urgent and what isn’t.
  29. I recommend this article from Jan Jones, author of The CEO’s Secret Weapon.
  30. My trick: Send them both to meetings with their teams at the same time. This gives me spare time to work on my own projects and time to breathe and have the office just for myself 🙂