I got a new position recently as a deputy lead of a research group (this position is at a level comparable to assistant/associate professor in my country) at a famous institute. This means that the lead gives me tasks and I regularly report to him. In addition, the head of the department (to which my group belongs) is also giving me tasks, as I have been hired to help them both. However, this makes me overloaded and it is almost impossible to complete all the tasks assigned to me.

In addition to all this, I have to manage and work on 4+ projects (which are in their mid-lifetime) and write grant proposals, but so far there is no one in the group I am leading to help with this work.

I feel it is beyond my capability to manage all these things alone. Any advice?

  • Have you talked to either of your bosses about this? Is there a financial split to your position (i.e., X% of your time is paid for by one, Y% is paid for by the other)?
    – Bryan Krause
    Aug 22, 2022 at 19:48
  • - I mentioned that I need time to grasp everything because it is simply too much. - The head of the department is the boss of the leader (who works in our institute as a part-time leader). They initiated this position so that this deputy lead can co-lead the group and partially help the head of the department. This means that the money comes from a single source and cannot be split because it is one department.
    – Samy
    Aug 22, 2022 at 19:56
  • "I mentioned that I need time to grasp everything because it is simply too much" - this does not seem the same as saying to them explicitly "I am getting tasks from both my direct supervisor and my supervisor's boss, and I cannot accomplish all of them. What should I do?"
    – Bryan Krause
    Aug 22, 2022 at 20:09
  • @BryanKrause Well because I knew this but did not expect it to be like this.
    – Samy
    Aug 22, 2022 at 20:12
  • 1
    @JochenGlueck you are right and that was edited by someone else. In my comment, I said, "Research Group Lead" is comparable to an assistant/associate professor. That's why it is better to suggest an edit to the OP and not to edit it directly. The comments are also deleted :(
    – Samy
    Aug 22, 2022 at 21:01

1 Answer 1


Schedule a meeting with the three of you together, preferably face to face. Express your concerns and work out a solution. If each thinks they are your primary supervisor this situation is bound to happen.

But, you can't try to play them off against one another. You need to find a mutually (all three) suitable solution.

One thing that may help (or not) is to try to get everyone to copy everyone on tasks and such, perhaps through communication through a mailing list or similar.

An even better solution, if you can arrange it, is to have one of the "bosses" filter requests through the other one. That can prevent the situation in which every request you get is "highest priority - due ASAP". But this isn't the easiest thing to arrange.

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