How to Develop the Successful Matrix Management Strategy

Effective management is an important component of any thriving business. Management teams drive results and ultimately support the company’s bottom line. Employees in management roles often make or break a company’s productivity and are a huge asset to the organization. At the moment, one rising management trend is the concept of matrix management. In this article we will explore the matrix management structure, who uses this style, how it can help your business, and ways to effectively implement the concept within your organization.

In fact, a recent study found that 75 percent of employees do not quit their job, they quit their boss. This data demonstrates the delicate nature of the employee to manager relationship. However, many companies are still approaching management in old fashioned and ineffective ways. Management is not a one size fits all concept. You’ll really need to do a thorough analysis of your company to create some more efficient tactics.

matrix management

What Is Matrix Management?

This management practice enables employees to work with multiple managers on different projects. It’s more interactive than a direct report style of management. In matrix management, people with similar skills are grouped together and assigned a particular project.

Members of the pool might report to a specified leader on the team. Meanwhile, they are still reporting directly to their manager as listed on the organizational chart. This technique is often called cross-functional and collaborative. The reason is because it is less departmentalized than more linear forms of management.

Who Uses Matrix Management?

This form of management emerged in the 1920s. Back then, behaviorists began to study work habits. Modern theorists began to observe job satisfaction and employee engagement. They were lacking with the more formalized structures of the Industrial Revolution. So, they began to introduce more humanistic approaches.

Today, there are three commonly accepted matrices used by organizations. These styles include coordination, overlay, and secondment.

  • Coordination models allow employees to remain under their assigned departments. Still, they promote and facilitate cross-functional projects.
  • The overlay model officially makes an employee a member of two distinct groups. Each of them has a clearly defined manager.
  • In the secondment model, employees switch back and forth between their project group and their functional department.

With each of the matrices, routines change frequently and the dynamics are often altered. Overall, each of these matrix management styles are generally used on a temporary basis. Organizations might opt for this style when trying to complete a big project or when implementing major change. They may also choose this model when trying to engage and develop the skills of employees.

How Can My Business Benefit?

There are many benefits to the matrix management model. The interactive nature of the model has been known to produce excellent results that aren’t typically gained in a hierarchical chain. Here are a few of the most popular benefits.

  • More information exchange: This cross-functional model naturally facilitates more efficient exchanges of information. Organizations that are structured in a more departmentalized way tend to communicate only within their department. This means much information is lost and communication is filtered in a silo.
  • Sparks creativity: This model also offers the opportunity to get a new perspective on a problem. Each department has their strengths and advanced knowledge on a particular topic. So allowing teams to interact and share their knowledge can be a great way to spark new and creative ideas. The matrix management model encourages each department to think differently and learn from one another. New solutions or ideas are bound to appear with this model as the variety of opinions and perspectives is increased.
  • Improved response time: This model opens resources that were not initially available to some departments. Increasing the amount of workers on a project ensures the organization can respond in a timely manner. This improved response time and flexibility can do wonders for your customer service platform. It can also reduce internal frustrations.
  • Better management: Your managers will gain a lot of insight from this experience. The matrix model requires that managers are more involved in the decision-making. Also, they are an active part of the day-to-day procedures of the organization. They will be required to participate more fully in the conversations. This process will enable them to better relate to their direct reports. This improved rapport will do wonders for the health and productivity of your workforce.

3 Tips for Implementing Matrix Management Successfully

The matrix management system can be tricky at first and requires the buy-in of your management team. Your managers need to understand the importance of the change. Moreover, they should be trained on how to effectively implement the program. If they’re not enthusiastic about the process, you can’t expect the rest of the staff to be engaged with the model. So make sure you collect feedback prior to implementation.

1. Communicate This Change Clearly to Employees and the Reporting Structure

Also, state the process for performance evaluations. Employees may be confused about how they fit into the new structure. So don’t dive in without proper explanation and training.

2. Focus on Their Engagement and Maximize It

Many employees report that their company is not allowing them to use their best skill set. This waste of resources can be draining and can impact employee engagement. The matrix management model puts employees in a new situation where they can exercise new skills. Consequently, they find more fulfillment at work. Employees appreciate the opportunity to contribute and think in ways they aren’t normally charged with in their everyday roles. So the important part here is to notice their skills and make the right choices.

3. Regularly Check in with Your Management Teams

The first few months of implementation can be confusing and you may see some conflict. Maintaining an open line of communication with your management teams is the key in these situations. It will ensure these problems get addressed in a timely fashion before they escalate.

management team

Completing the Matrix

In summary, matrix management can be extremely effective in temporary situations or for major projects or changes. The flexibility and versatility of the structure opens communication channels and fosters creativity. However, you must get buy-in from your management team. Also, clearly communicate the change to your employees. Otherwise, you risk losing the many advantages of this modern style.

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