I recently joined a company and so far so good but not great. The pay is good, possibly the upper 1% in the country. There are many perks in the new job and bottom-line the job is everything I was looking for but now I'm re-thinking it. Partly this is because of some family reaction to the job but mostly it's because I have two supervisors.

One morning last week my supervisor called me and asked me what I was working on and I told him what I was working on. It was just a routine morning update on the progress of the projects.

Three hours later, another supervisor asked me on Skype what I was working on and I repeated the whole story all over again. During both discussions, the two supervisors were each very intent on asking me to finish one particular project first. Each supervisor had a project he/she was rooting for.

Their differences took me by surprise and i began to consult my colleague albeit cryptically about the projects we were working on. I was surprised what my colleague had to say about one particular supervisor and went as far to ask me to subtly ignore orders from one supervisor and concentrate on orders from the other supervisor.

After digging deeper, I found out the two supervisors are locked in a battle to control the projects and everyone in the office was either siding with one supervisor over the other. Since I am the newbie the rest of the team are waiting for me to take sides and every project I take is judged by who of the two supervisors gave the orders.

I am beginning to think its the right time to move on, but I would love to know how i can survive this situation.

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    Who do you actually report to? – Philip Kendall May 20 '17 at 17:48
  • I am supposed to report to the two supervisors. – Wolf Eyes May 20 '17 at 17:51
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    Why do you have two supervisors? That just calls for trouble. Reminds me of kids who go to their dad after mum said no to something. You should have exactly one direct supervisor in your company's hierarchy - and in a situation like the one you describe I would check with him on what to do. – ThiefMaster May 20 '17 at 17:58
  • Do your two supervisors share a common manager? I'd go slightly further than ThiefMaster in that I'd regard not having a single manager as a big red flag for a job, because it leads to problems just like this... – Philip Kendall May 20 '17 at 18:12
  • @PhilipKendall Yes, they do have a common manager. – Wolf Eyes May 20 '17 at 18:14

If you really don't have a single person to report to (and I regard that as a big worry for a job - it leads to situations like this), the place to take this to is your supervisors' manager. At least until you know better, I'd approach this without mentioning the conflict in the office:

I'm a bit confused as to how to work out my priorities. Supervisor 1 is saying that Project 1 is my top priority, but Supervisor 2 is saying Project 2 is my top priority. How should I work out which one is more important?

There are a few possibilities how this could work out:

  • Your supervisors' manager is aware of the conflict and is working to resolve it. If so, they'll be able to give you appropriate guidance.
  • Your supervisors' manager is aware of the conflict, but not attempting to resolve it. This is clearly a bad situation, and probably means there's not much you can do about it.
  • Your supervisors' manager is not aware of the conflict. This sounds unlikely given that everyone else in the office is, but if so you may have to drop subtle (or not so subtle) hints that you're aware of the issue. A good manager will then work to minimize the impact on the affected staff.

Perhaps the good news is that situations like this have an obvious tendency to resolve themselves pretty quickly one way or the other - what I'd be doing in your shoes is trying to ensure that I didn't get caught in the fallout independent of which side "won".

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