Working in a Matrixed Organisations – 5 Watch-outs, 5 Solutions
Matrix organizations, characterized by employees having a dual reporting relationships – generally to both a functional manager and a product/project manager, are increasingly becoming a norm in organizations today. Particularly as organizations grow larger, become more complex, and enter other markets or are largely driven by projects.
The Matrixed structure allows for increased information flow, wider utilisation of expertise and knowledge, and greater flexibility &responsiveness- the recipe to build agile organisations.
In my experience of working with matrixed teams, however, there are some overarching common issues that crop up because of which the teams are challenged to fulfil their roles and get things done. This causes inefficiency and a whole lot of frustration among the team members and a matrixed set up does more harm than good.
The following are what I would call the common pitfalls that HAVE to be prevented upfront before a team gets to work;
1. Lack of Leadership Involvement in articulating and visibly demonstrating cohesion at the top
2. Misaligned Goals – balancing complex conflicting priorities between 2 structures
3. Conflicting Loyalties – power struggle; chain of authority where there is a lot of fluidity in reporting.
4. Delayed decisions – decision strangulation, too much democracy and not enough action with a lot of opinions and PowerPoints being shared.
5. Confusion about roles and responsibilities – lanes of responsibility, who does what; who owns what, this ends up with no one taking complete responsibility for anything.
Matrixed Organisations can be very effective though and can bring a lot of efficiency and exploit good talent easily, but only when…
1. …The LEADERSHIP DEMONSTRATES UNITY AND SHARED OWNERSHIP in a visibile and tangible manner from the beginning, the teams below have to follow.
2. …There is a HIGHLY COLLABORATIVE CULTURE embedded in the team by the leads to deal with the grey areas that crop up in new and unchartered territory of projects.
3. …Where INFORMATION FLOWS FREELY and there is willful and proactive communication to solve problems.
4. …There are STRONG RELATIONSHIPS AND INFORMAL NETWORKSthat the team members have invested time and effort in.
5. …And where people are trained and encouraged to demonstrate their GOOD INTERPERSONAL SKILLS to reach out to those who don’t necessarily fall in one’s reporting structure but are critical for success.
Let me know what you think and do reach out for any questions or counterpoints you might have.