When you report to two managers, all the three of you achieve much less. With two managers, your output will almost certainly halve. And eventually the three of you will probably have a spat. When this happens, productivity will take a further dive. Think back to your childhood. When you have two managers, it is like having a mother and father. Mum says, ‘No ice cream today’, so you ask Dad for ice cream. He says, ‘Great idea, let’s all have ice cream.’ Now mother and father have an argument over how to bring up children. Next, mum decides that it’s time to encourage you to develop a work ethic so she says, ‘Today, I’d like you to help me around the house.’ Dad comes along and says, ‘What are you doing? I told you yesterday that today you must clean your bicycle!’
Mother and father have no alternative but to get together and solve the problem that their child has two bosses. If they are good and loving parents they will succeed in coping, but the problem will never entirely goes away. And most children learn the valuable lesson of accepting some of the little injustices in life. If you think that adults at work don’t act like kids and parents, take a cool analytical look at what goes on around you. They surely do! Organizational structures that create dual reporting responsibilities work fine if the reporting involves only the giving of information, but when it also involves receiving instructions from two or more sources, it encourages conflict. One manager will be disappointed when his or her work is not completed. Setting realistic deadlines becomes impossible, because no one manager has a full understand of the person’s workload. One boss will tend to pressure for his or her work to be done first.
If you are involved in this problem, do not try to live with it, because you cannot ultimately succeed in this situation. Instead, find a way to eliminate it. The problem of having two managers must not be there in the first place. Eliminate the problem and you will see relationships improve and productivity rise.