What does it mean to have too many cooks in the kitchen?
Having too many cooks in the kitchen is an expression businesses use to describe a work environment where a group of colleagues is experiencing challenges working together toward the same goal. Each individual in the group may have their own agendas, priorities or ideas that conflict or overpower other individuals’ contributions.
There may be “too many cooks in the kitchen” when members of a team or a group of employees from different departments are having difficulty working on a project together. You may also hear someone use this expression to describea team that has too many people contributing conflicting ideas to a project. You can prevent this from occurring with strategies for building a collaborative work environment.
How to improve co-management
Co-managementis a business practice in which a company assigns two or more supervisors or managers the responsibility of leading a group of employees together. This means the co-managers must make decisions and guide their employees as partners. Use the following strategies to improve the effectiveness of your organization’s co-management practices:
1. Identify the company’s goals, and use them to define co-management
Use your company’s vision and mission statement to identify the company’s overall goals. Once you know the organization’s goals, use them to make sure every leader in your organization understands how your company defines co-management and how the company expects its leaders to use co-management strategies to help them achieve their goals.
2. Gain commitment from your leadership team
Ensure every leader in your organization commits to working together to help the company achieve its goals. Ask each co-leadership pair or group to build their own system for managing together. Have them collaboratively create the rules and expectations for their partnership and their team and decide how to split their responsibilities. When pairing leaders together, consider the unique strengths, skills and talents of each leader and try to pair leaders with different abilities together to maximize potential.
3. Develop strong communication skills
Excellent communication skills are important for all leaders but especially for those who share responsibilities and need to rely on each other to complete their work successfully.
Here are a few tips to help co-managers communicate with each other:
- Identify each partner’s preferences for communication tools and styles.
- Ensure each partner has access to several communication tools and knows how to use each one.
- Create a regular meeting schedule where each partner agrees to share ideas, progress and feedback.
- Establish expectations for partners to communicate with each other before communicating something to their team independently.
4. Build trust throughout the organization
Trust is another factor needed to build a strong and effective co-management team. Co-leaders work together best when they trust the decisions and actions their partner is making. Building a foundation of trust between the leaders in your organization also helps the leadership team establish trust with their teams. Employees trust their leaders when they believe they are reliable, honest, competent and fair.
Here are a few tips to help build trust among your leadership team:
- Establish core values that guide the decision-making process, including the values each co-leader believes make a great leader and contribute the vision they have for their team
- Emphasize respect between each co-leader, like respecting the different skills, opinions and values each person contributes to the partnership and the team, which can allow each co-manager to use their abilities to strengthen the partnership and maximize efficiency.
- Ensure co-leaders always tell the truth and follow-through on their commitments to show their co-managing partner they’re honest and dedicated to completing their share of the responsibilities.
- Encourage co-leaders to be consistent in their work performance and decision-making process so each partner knows they can rely on their partner to have the same expectations and support each other’s decisions.
Frequently asked questions about co-managing employees
Here are the answers to a few frequently asked questions about co-managing employees:
How do you know if your co-management strategy is effective?
Routinely asking your employees for feedback is the best way to identify how effective your co-management strategy is. Feedback helps you ensure everyone on your leadership team works together effectively to provide employees the tools, resources, guidance and support they need to succeed.
Try to involve as many people as possible in the decision-making process, especially when the decisions affect their work. Doing this creates an environment where everyone feels empowered to contribute new ideas and inspired to perform their best work. Occasional check-ins also help you ensure co-leaders are assigning employees an even workloadto prevent burnout.
How do you know if your co-management strategy needs improvement?
If your business is experiencing difficulty creating a positive work environment or meeting performance expectations, these may be signs your co-management strategy needs improvement. The following workplace concerns may be signs it is time to review the effectiveness of your management strategy:
- Decreased or stagnant productivity
- Low employee morale
- High employee turnover rate
- Inefficiency and missing deadlines
- Difficulty building positive relationships between employees and leaders
Why is it important to know how to co-manage?
It is important for professionals in leadership roles to know how to co-manage effectively because many companies use this management strategy to promote a collaborative work environment. The primary purpose of co-management is to create an environment where a company’s leaders support each other, and employees benefit from having access to the combined knowledge, skills and talents of several leaders.