Juggling: The Art of Supporting Multiple Managers

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If you are an assistant who works with multiple managers or executives, you know the work can be overwhelming at times. For nearly a decade, I primarily supported one person—the CEO. However, after a recent turn of events such as staffing vacancies and promotions, I have found myself providing administrative support to several other key managers while we recruit for vacant positions.

Let’s face it—the work of an administrative professional is never ending. When you support multiple managers, the work multiplies!

Here are some tips and key questions to ask managers and executives as requests for your time are made throughout the week:

  • When possible ask that projects and tasks be given to you verbally so you can ask clarifying questions and better understand the work that is being given to you.
  • For projects that appear critical, ask for added background information such as: “Can you tell me more about this project? What are the desired outcomes and risks for this assignment?”
  • Find out who else has information related to the project. The primary manager may be traveling and/or unavailable to answer your questions.
  • Tasks can literally fly across your desk via technologies all day long (i.e. email, instant chat, phone, text messaging, etc.). Quickly ask for details, capture the task in writing or save it electronically, and ask for the deadline. This technique can help you to keep a running list, prioritize tasks/projects to determine what needs to get done now or can wait, and decide what can be delegated to other administrative support staff.
  • Create a work plan before you go into work because the day rarely goes as planned.
  • Establish positive working relationships with other internal administrative support staff as they are vital when additional help is needed.
  • Lastly, check in with managers periodically to provide them status updates on their requests.

There are many projects and/or tasks that are just not necessary to complete today, tomorrow, later in the week, or even next week. These assignments can wait until next month or even later. Quickly get these projects and/or tasks off of your desk, place them into a tickler file or schedule a reminder, and revisit them at the appropriate time.

Since supporting multiple managers, I have enjoyed strengthening my working relationships with other managers. This opportunity has forced me to re-exam my capacity and stretch myself. There are days when I have 15 calendars open on my computer in an effort to schedule meetings with elected officials, developers, executive team members, staff, and members of the general public.

It is important to recognize and remember that your work as an administrative professional will never be finished each day. To think otherwise is wishful thinking! What IS important while supporting multiple managers is to make sure to eliminate time wasters, be available to work extended hours, stay organized, take breaks periodically, and make it a goal to stay healthy.

Time will always be a challenge for administrative professionals, and that’s okay! You and I only have 24-hours each day! We can maximize our work by getting better organized, setting priorities, and asking ourselves throughout the day— “What is the best use of my time right now?”

 

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