Keys to Being a Co-Manager

I am finding that more and more organizations are assigning managers to a new role these days that is being called  a “co-manager”. A “co-manager” shares a staff with another co- manager.  Each co-manager may have some separate responsibilities and some that overlap. The 2 co- managers are usually charged with managing a shared team and coordinating the work flow. For the team, that means, yes, they have 2 bosses, which can be challenging at times.

What are the pitfalls of being a co- manager?

Co-managing is at its worst when the two managers are not aligned and do not project the same values, vision and mission. If the employees see the two managers in any way as competitive, then the team’s functionality is severely hampered.  What’s more, if the two managers don’t communicate often with each other, there is no coordination and the team members are left feeling like “monkey in the middle”. The team members have difficulty knowing how to prioritize and there is a real danger of “projects falling through the cracks”.

What are the keys to being an effective co-manager?

  1. Create a shared understanding of what co-managing is and isn’t.
  2. Establish common goals and commitments for your shared team.
  3. Create ground rules and common expectations for co- managing your team and working together most effectively.
  4. Clarify and create a shared understanding of:
    • Roles and responsibilities for each of you that are separate and distinct;
    • Roles and responsibilities that overlap or “crossover” and identify processes for co-managing in overlapping areas;
    • How to share, allocate resources and coordinate the workload most efficiently.
  5. Determine how to best communicate with each other and your team as co-managers.
    • Discuss what you need to be communicating jointly to your team (when you are both present).
    •  Discuss how to keep your co- manager “in the loop” and why that is important.
    • Commit to meet and communicate regularly with each other. Commit to a meeting schedule that is sacred.

When co- managers are working well together their team has two powerful managers and they feel just as comfortable with one as the other.  The team knows the managers are aligned and they will not get divergent points of view from either of them.  However, effective co-managing won’t happen by accident; both co- managers must be committed to common goals and the same results.  What’s more, they must be willing to put any personal differences aside.