Matrix management

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This topic contains 2 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Sandy Ressler 8 years, 4 months ago.

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  • #106879

    Michael Jacobson

    Does anyone have recommended resources on understanding matrix management? I’m specifically looking for ideas/frameworks/resources for when it is a good idea or when it should be avoided. Identifying success or risk factors that should be considered. Examples of successes or failures.

  • #106883

    Sandy Ressler

    I’ve seen a number of different matrix management projects. With one significant exception, (I’ll elaborate), they generally fail. The idea is that you have one set of managers that controls people and another set of managers that control money. The managers controlling the money would typically run a particular project and they negotiate with the managers who control people for the use of those people. Typical problems are that the people managers try to dump low performers onto the project managers and after lots of negotiations some work gets done but not without a lot of angst.

    Another downside is for the staff who for evaluation and performance purposes work for someone other then their line managers…it can become difficult for the line manager to evaluate the staff.

    However the one significant exception I’ve seen is when you have a particular project manager who has strong leadership qualities AND strong control over the money…then the matrix management can work. Good luck!

  • #106881

    Erin Duggins

    Large private companies, especially those that are global, generally have matrix structures, especially given the need for scalability. Matrix structures are generally found in large organizations (size) that operate in dynamic environments which require ongoing flexibility and adaptation. I find that interesting given that some research says that matrix organizations are more suited to relatively smaller organizations. Anyway, most research agrees that matrix organizations are best in scenarios where:

    1. There is a clear recognition that multiple speciality areas must work together to deliver a product or service (e.g., a surgery team all come from different divisions such as surgery, nursing, anesthesiology, etc, but
    2. Need for collaboration is great enough such that collaboration must be “hard wired” into the structure to best facilitate it.

    3. Fast response times are needed for decisions. Matrix organizations increase the liklihood that decisions will be made where the problem and information reside to reduce response time to stakeholders (i.e., decisions made at the lowest levels where the expertise truly resides).

    My personal opinion is that matrix structures will only work as long as they are aligned with the agency’s prevailing values/behaviors, operating principles, and enabling systems (e.g., human resources, performance management, etc). Where organizations go wrong is that they fail to acknowledge that matrix structures imply DUAL authority, which makes decision-making inherently more complex. However, if there are up front agreements as to who has authority for particular decisions, as well as a framework for why, when and how collaboration/coordination will occur, then there is a good chance that the matrix org will succeed. That means that people need to step outside of the “fiefdom” mentality to one that espouses shared goals, shared responsibilities, shared metrics for the greater good (i.e., successful execution of the agency’s mission).

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