Tips to Manage Work from Multiple Managers in the Legal Workplace
For much of my career, I’ve been assigned to one manager. Now, I’ve been asked to provide research and project support to three different managers — each of whom claims their work is a priority. How can I balance the workload while satisfying their expectations and meeting their project deadlines at the same time?
Juggling assignments and demands from multiple managers can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to. With the right strategy, you can excel when working for more than one boss.
Your top priority when trying to balance your workload should be to ask for clear communication. When working for three people, there’s no time for misunderstandings or delays caused by cryptic requests, especially in the legal field.
Naturally, you can speak directly to your managers about caseloads and concerns, but you should also encourage them to speak to one another. That way, they’ll have a better understanding of the demands they’re placing on you and the amount of work on your plate.
When you’re dealing with multiple managers, it’s important that you have a clear understanding of which assignments are the most critical. Ask your managers to set priorities and timelines before sending work your way. This will allow you to better manage your time and meet multiple deadlines.
Of course, the fact that you have several managers doesn’t make them equal. Don’t forget who you ultimately report to and who makes critical decisions about your career. This is the person you should go to if any disputes arise about what you should or shouldn’t be prioritizing.
You should also consider weekly check-in meetings with all of your managers to discuss your workload and upcoming assignments. If possible, get them all in the same room — virtual or physical — and set clear expectations about the week’s work and deliverables.
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for some flexibility in your work routine. With three managers placing demands on you, it can be difficult to find time to actually get your assignments done, especially if they require you to participate in multiple meetings. See if your managers will allow you to block off certain hours on your calendar during which you won’t be responding to emails, answering phone calls or attending meetings.
The bottom line here is to act before you get overwhelmed. Laying some groundwork for managing your competing priorities shows strength, not weakness, and your bosses will appreciate it.