Tap. Tap. Tap.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
Skip.. Drag your toe… Hop. Heel. Toe. Heel. Toe.
Nope… not really dancing on stage.. but dancing, sometimes tip-toeing through administrative challenges. One must be light on their feet! Gently! Tap around the awkward issues… Skip forward to get to what has to get done. Do the work. Heel. Toe. Heel. Toe.
Having only taken tap dance as part of PE requirement in 6th grade.. I cannot say for sure that working with two equally ranked bosses is like tap dancing.. but I have a hunch I could be right.
Working in an environment with more than one supervisor always has the potential for challenges. The supervisors could have different priorities (for the same project!), communication styles, expectations, work schedules and heck, they could probably be of a different gender, age and/or lifestyle.
The key to survival for this assignment is to learn the routine. That’s right. Learn each routine until you know it cold. You can ask for practice time, but know that certain times are a full stage performance, ie.. Board Meetings. More and more executive assistants and administrative assistants are being assigned as support to multiple persons. Some EAs are assigned to support more than one senior level management slot. (Stay tuned for an article on how recruiters are seeking admins that can support more than two executives.)
If you take the time to learn each of the supervisors preferences and organize your work to go with their schedules, the dance becomes easier and more fun. For example, if one boss travels predominantly to the West Coast, schedule your calls and follow up with that supervisor onto your Outlook calendar in the afternoon. It can be quite humiliating to accidentally call your supervisor from the East Coast at 9am when it’s 6am at the Westin in LA. Eek! This allows you to also gather issues as they arise during the day.
Your other supervisor, may be at the PGA Resort and Spa in West Palm Beach, Florida with an afternoon tee at 2pm. Schedule the morning to review the list of items you need answers to, actions that need to be taken or calls that need to be returned. Using this time gives you the afternoon to work on issues with your supervisor in the West. That only leaves about .. say, 1 1-1/2 hours to organize in between and get some lunch into your hungry stomach.
Take some time at the end of every day- to look at each calendar and try to make the most of your day by utilizing the calendar.
It takes time. It takes effort. It takes patience and practice. Lastly, it takes great communication. Be certain to touch base with your supervisors at least once a day with a running list of what you are working on- putting it in email seems to work best for this running list. This reassures them that you have their items on a list AND will jog their memory if one of the items has to be moved on the priority list.