Too Much Input

Reporting guidelines are critical. If you have ever been in a position where you report to more than one person, you may know the difficulties and challenges this can present. Some of the issues that arise include:

  • To whom do you respond first?
  • Instructions from more than one person that conflict
  • Being used as a pawn by one manager against another (a no-win situation)

The bottom line is an employee in this position is experiencing too much input. I’m not going to try to tell you how to get yourself out of this situation if you are an employee already in it. You do have my sympathy though as I have been there and it is no fun. Really this post is addressed to business owners and managers as they develop reporting structures.

An Example from Private Life

While this has nothing to do specifically with business, I offer an example from private life that I think illustrates the confusion this creates. I play tennis and one of the things that has been the biggest struggle has been serving; specifically a tendency to double fault. That in itself is enough of a struggle, but it gets complicated by something similar to reporting to more than one person. When I have been struggling with double faults, I have had partners, team captains, other players, coaches, and others offer advice. The advice has ranged from “Just get the ball in’ to “Don’t hit it so hard”, to “Serve underhand if you have to” to “Take your time”, to “Steady up partner” to “Toss the ball higher” to “Toss the ball lower” to “Swing faster” and ………….. Well, you get the picture. But here is the issue (besides my serving problem) – much of this advice, while well meaning, is contradictory and much of it comes from people who really have no idea how to correct the issue. All these different people represented too much input.

But Now to Business

If you own or manage a business, be careful when designing your reporting structure. If at all possible, don’t have one employee directly report to more than one person. If it is absolutely necessary, then define the areas where each supervisor is in charge, In the case it is unavoidable that there is some overlap, set guideline as to which supervisor has the final say.

Without reporting guidelines you will have employees who are uncertain as to just what they should do and who to follow.

What about your company? Do you have this issue? Do you have effective and efficient ways to resolve reporting conflicts?

If you want to know more, contact AimCFO – Contact

As always, your comments are welcomed.


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