What is Collaborative Management?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Collaborative management is a term that is used to describe various management techniques that promote a sense of unity and teamwork among managers and supervisors within a business organization. The idea behind this type of management style is to allow managers to combine their strengths with the strengths of other members of the team, making it possible to collectively offset any weaknesses that may be found among the team members. In theory, this approach is supposed to enhance the efficiency of all operations within the company and in turn have a positive influence on employee morale, vendor relations, and even consumer perceptions regarding the business.

Collaborative management encourages teamwork among the leaders of a business.
Collaborative management encourages teamwork among the leaders of a business.

While the exact strategies vary, any type of collaborative management style varies somewhat from more traditional management techniques. One of the most obvious is the team approach to managing the business. While each manager does retain specific areas of responsibility and accountability, the incidence of managers conferring with one another on issues regarding day to day functioning of the departments in their care is encouraged. This means that the managers come together more often to brainstorm on how to deal with a developing issue in one department or area of the company, with the goal of overcoming the issue before it has a chance to negatively impact other areas of the operation.

Managers come together to brainstorm solutions.
Managers come together to brainstorm solutions.

The scope of collaborative management methods used in this type of corporate environment is often determined by the nature of the business, the size of the management team, and the types of operational issues that are common to that particular business model. Managers may come together on an as-needed basis in a less formal setting, or choose a more structured platform for interaction that involves one or two meetings each week. With the more structured approach, the team may utilize various reporting methods to identify what is happening in various areas of the operation, evaluate those events, and then collectively respond in whatever manner the team considers appropriate. This is in contrast to situations in which departmental managers simply turn in reports to owners and operate more or less autonomously, handling issues in their departments more or less on their own.

While proponents of collaborative management often cite the benefits of combing strengths inherent in each manager with the strengths of others to overcome potential obstacles in the business operation, critics sometimes note that this type of management by committee arrangement does have some drawbacks. One potential liability of a collaborative management approach is that a manager working in a collaborative environment may not feel empowered to make decisions on the spot when necessary. As the result of the delay while gathering managers together to deal with an emerging situation, valuable time is lost. In addition, it is less likely that it will be possible to resolve an issue before it has the chance to spread to other areas of the business, making it much harder to handle effectively.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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When it comes down to it, in healthcare - collaborative style is best. We have national roles and responsibilities. The goal is managing patient care and having one nurse act solely in a management role, while another is managing care tasks is inefficient. Peer reviewed studies have been done - and there is a bottom line cost savings.

Another problem that may arise in collaborative management is the company feeling more managers need to be in place to help the group make the best possible decisions.

More managers means increased salaries, generally, and could cut into the bottom line.

Also, Glasis, you are right -- having too many cooks in the kitchen is never good for the soup, as the old saying goes.


The article is right. Every minute spent in a meeting trying to convince several people to agree on an issue is a minute of lost productivity for the company as a whole.

The more managers that are involved in the process, the worse the problem becomes. Managers were, in theory, put in their positions because of their decision making abilities and expertise in a particular area. Put simply, each one thinks he or she knows better than the rest.

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