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Stretched between 2 bosses

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in Office Communication,Workplace Communication

Anyone who has worked for two or more bosses can tell you: The division of labor often leaves you feeling stretched both ways.

But with some schedule-wrangling and communication skills, you can manage the work more smoothly, experts say:

Negotiate deadlines rather than constantly juggling “urgent” assignments. “If you have multiple 8 a.m. deadlines, consider asking one boss if he or she could accept the work later,” says Anita Attridge, a career coach with the Five O’Clock Club, a career counseling network.

“The answer might be no, but at least you tried. You’ll very quickly learn which bosses are willing to do that, and who you never ask again.” Attridge says to always give bosses an alternative, rather than a flat-out “I can’t do this.”

Keep bosses at ease in a way that suits their styles. “Communication is the most important part of it,” Attridge says.

For example, one boss may like being updated every 48 hours on what you’re doing and any problems you’ve encountered. The other boss may prefer a hands-off style, unless questions arise.

Also key is the form your communication takes. One boss may prefer a face-to-face daily huddle. Another may prefer instant messaging. Don’t feel comfortable with a particular technology? Do what it takes to get comfortable, experts say. Just because one system works for one boss doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for the other.

Map out your time. Vicki Lynn, vice president for research and consulting at the jobs web site, suggests mapping out your calendar to block out time periods for each boss. Overcommunicate, and “use Outlook or some other tool to be very specific or visible about what you’re doing,” she advises.

— Adapted from “How To Work For More Than One Boss—And Stay Sane,” Helen Coster, Forbes.

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