5 keys to successful matrix management

The rise of globalization has compelled companies to keep a geographically broad organization in close communication and with a shared goal. It´s also led organizations to share employees and resources across diverse functions and strategies.

To meet these new complexities, more and more businesses and executives are turning to matrix management, a reporting structure for strategies requiring multiple, simultaneous capabilities. 

How to master the matrix organization

The matrix organizational structure will greet you with overlapping responsibilities and multiple reporting lines. While you might be in charge of a product family, another manager could be leading a geographic region. Or you might be in a single department with more than one manager. At times, you´ll find yourself juggling competing interests pertaining to various, and not necessarily in-sync, dimensions of the organization.

To protect yourself from the chaos and confusion that poor matrix management structure can provoke, heed its innovative and adaptive potential by fostering a better working environment based on sound decision-making that does not revert to traditional power hierarchies.

What is matrix management

Matrix structures have separate chains of command, one for permanent function-based roles and another for short-term strategic projects. For employees, this means that they have at least one boss, a system which has its pros and cons. How to implement it? Follow this 5 keys.

1. Encourage a positive corporate culture

A dependable way to do this lies in motivating your team members and other colleagues to report effectively to different bosses across a number of departments. They must help all of your companies’ employees understand the organization’s particular matrix structure.

2. Put the right people in the right places

Your employees who prefer a firmer and more traditional type of guidance from a single supervisor may have trouble adjusting to a matrix organization structure. Meanwhile, you and your fellow managers, no matter the department, should remember to navigate the matrix with a sense of humility and an openness to compromise.

3. Give your people clear roles

You’re not alone if you fear that mapping a matrix organization will make your companies organization even more complicated. To allay this fear, it’s crucial that you clearly spell out the roles of all employees and their supervisors from day one of the matrix and to put in motion its end goal of vastly improved adaptability.

4. Make sure to standardize your company’s performance measures and rewards

Numerical metrics are not always useful. The compromise required of a matrix organization is best judged by subjective measures, especially if you and an employee are both trying to optimize results while perhaps having different goals.

5. Maintain various communication methods

Your organization will need to establish one-way communication (e.g. memos and emails) as well as a dialogue between top management and the rest of the organization.

IESE’s Executive Education programs cover topics, including matrix organization management, that will prepare you to lead your team through today´s volatile and globalized business landscape.

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