You ARE an expert in Matrix Management

By Morag Barrett on October 1, 2013

Posted by Morag Barrett | October 1, 2013You ARE an expert in Matrix ManagementHave you ever felt at work that you are being pulled in many different directions at once?  Maybe you have someone asking you to “Do this…”, while someone else wants you to “Do that…” and yet you need to “Do the other…”? If you have then you maybe stuck in the matrix management melting pot.I recently came across a great blog by Jesse Jacoby that explores the challenges of working in a matrix environment. A matrix environment is one where you have multiple bosses.  For example, you may find yourself withYour direct line boss, the one shows on any organizational chart and is sometimes referred to as your “hard-line” bossOther boss or peers to whom you report, these are “dotted-line” relationships and may occur as a result of specific projects or other workMost of my career has been spent in a matrix environment.  Reporting to my immediate, hard-line boss, who may be local, as well as another leader, my “dotted-line” boss who resides in another city or country.  This matrix environment is intended to increase collaboration and cross-functional working.  In theory the organization becomes more flexible and able to respond more quickly, sharing information directly with those who need it rather than using the traditional “chain of command”.However this dual reporting relationship can also cause stress and frustration and slow down decision making when everyone needs to be consulted.  A matrix management approach is ineffective when there is ambiguity, a lack of clarity as to roles and responsibilities, or how to prioritize between competing goals and deadlines.  To successfully navigate the matrix you need to understand who holds the “one ring to rule them all”.At SkyeTeam we have a wealth of tools and resources we have used to provide clarity (and sanity) to leaders working in a matrix world.  As I reflect on these there are two conversations that leaders find of benefit in providing new insight and a way forward:The Ultimate Matrix – you have already survived the ultimate matrix experience, childhood. Many households have two bosses (parents) and “dotted-line” relationships (siblings) all vying for limited time, attention (help with homework) and resources (the biggest slice of cake), add in the complexities of the extend family (grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.) and you have the perfect melting pot in which to hone your matrix management skills.  What can you take from those experiences and apply to the workplace (we do not advise storming off to your room and slamming your door).Who owns the goal? – When faced with competing expectations focus on who owns the overarching goal to determine priorities. These can change as organizational needs and challenges evolve, so revisit these regularly, to make sure that they are still relevant. Once you identify who owns the goals and what needs to be achieved, spend time clarifying HOW those results will be delivered – the roles and expectations BEFORE a conflict arises.What is your experience of matrix management?  What is your advice for successfully navigating the matrix?Related ArticlesTags »collaborationCultivating Winning RelationshipsHigh Performing Teamleadership development denverleadership training coloradomatrix management Share1
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