Dominic Schneuwly and Tipuna Tschabold, who have jointly transitioned the Digital Sales and Services unit into agile working, took over management of the team as co-leads in March 2022. Dominic is responsible for the methodological and HR tasks, while Tipuna manages the technical side of the team. In addition to these clearly separated functions, they work together on specific strategic and communicative aspects. This management model has helped them forge a new path in their field in the spirit of agile working.
Management in the agile working world: how co-leading works
Where agile work is implemented, the type of management changes accordingly. Dominic Schneuwly and Tipuna Tschabold share management responsibilities for Digital Sales and Services by co-leading. In the interview, they talk about how they get organized and what advantages and challenges co-leading presents.
Good to know: this is the difference between job or topsharing and co-leading
In job sharing or topsharing, two or more employees share a (management) job on a part-time basis. In co-leading, on the other hand, two or more employees generally divide a management function into separate management tasks. Co-lead positions can also be full-time.
How did the separation of tasks in co-leading come about?
Tipuna: Because of our previous roles (Dominic is a scrum master and I’m a product owner), we’ve been a well-coordinated team for quite a while. We’ve always complemented each other well. When a change in management was announced, we seized the opportunity and proposed that we co-lead as the new management team.
Dominic: This is also because we realized that in an agile environment, the traditional intermediate stages are not effective. So we approached our manager with our proposal to fill the team leader position ourselves. Our idea was, as Lead Scrum Master and Lead Product Owner, to take on all the management tasks, including HR management, and jointly bear responsibility for strategic decisions. What also appealed to us was being able to help shape things and make decisions ourselves.
What advantages do you see in co-leading?
Dominic: Thanks to clearly separated management functions, we can optimally play to and complement our individual strengths: I can rely on Tipuna’s technical expertise and he can rely on me when it comes to methodology or ensuring we have competent staff. And when it comes to the joint tasks, we always have a sparring partner at our side on whom we can rely. Contrary to what one might expect, we are not slower in our decision-making, but faster.
Tipuna: For me, co-leading lightens the workload, as I know that the HR matters are in good hands with Dominic, and this allows me to focus on my tasks.
What are the challenges of co-leading?
Dominic: Mainly that we can’t step in for each other fully when one of us is absent, because we generally don’t perform the same tasks. This required a change in thinking internally from our stakeholders. Furthermore, the co-lead needs to communicate clearly in which role they are currently working – as a scrum master in operations or as a manager responsible for strategic decisions.
In your experience, what are the success factors for co-leading?
Tipuna: To ensure that co-leading works, certain preconditions are essential – first and foremost, you need two people to join forces and take on the tasks in tandem, with the same approach and goals. It helps if you’ve already worked well together before and can draw on that experience in challenging times. To give you an example, together we managed to transform the Digital Sales and Services unit from a traditional to an agile working environment.
Dominic: This brings us closer, also on a personal level. With Tipuna, I not only have a proven working partner by my side, but also a friend who happens to be my daughter’s godfather. We know that we can rely on each other even in intense and challenging times. I think of it as climbing Mount Everest: you know that the task will be extremely difficult. But you also know that it’ll be easier and more manageable if you embark on the adventure with a suitable partner.
How did the people around you react to your co-leading management role?
Dominic: When we spoke about it for the first time, I was amazed at the reactions. It doesn’t yet seem to be normal for two people to share a management function. By the way, I work on an 80 percent employment level and Tipuna full time.
Would co-leading also work in a traditional work environment?
Tipuna: In my opinion, yes, although this depends a lot on the nature of the tasks to be performed. The more linear the task, the less need there is for such management models.
PostFinance’s pledge to its employees
Did you know? PostFinance offers a flexible and modern working environment in which staff can pursue their personal growth, share opinions on an equal footing and have their say. The options also include various working models such as topsharing, job sharing or co-leading.
Dominic Schneuwly and Tipuna Tschabold started working at PostFinance at the same time on 1 June 2021. What do they particularly like about their work and about PostFinance as an employer?
Tipuna Tschabold: “I enjoy optimizing the sales funnel and achieving the sales KPIs for our unit with our amazing team using the test-and-learn approach in an agile setting. I like to get personally involved in the strategic aspects in order to further develop PostFinance and create the best added value for our customers. Working at PostFinance is fun because we have a great culture, one that’s respectful and open. Above all, the good atmosphere in the team makes the working day really enjoyable.”
Dominic Schneuwly: “What I like is that we’re free to take the initiative to try something new and that we can encourage our staff to work in an agile way, with an interdisciplinary approach.”