energizing breakthrough performance

Matrix Management’s Core Competencies

Author: ; Published: Oct 2, 2012; Category: Cross-Functional Teams, Matrix Management; Tags: None; No Comments»

It’s often the case that every employee who plays a role in the matrix organization is assumed to understand how the matrix is supposed to work and how to participate effectively in it. Is this always a safe assumption? Obviously, the answer to this question is a resounding no. It is a cavalier, rather than safe assumption.

Role clarity is essential to matrix management success. However, getting to role clarity requires individual mastery of those role-specific competencies which are essential to successful role performance. Much as a sports team’s effectiveness is enfeebled when one of its players is not up to par or is otherwise “off their game,” a matrix organization is enfeebled when a vertical leader, a horizontal leader, a vertical liaison, or an individual contributor has not attained the competencies required for effective job performance or, worse yet, doesn’t even know what these competencies are!

Research shows that people learn and perform better when they understand more clearly and explicitly what they are expected to learn, what they are expected to be able to do, and how well they are expected to do it. Over the years, this research has given rise to competency-based training and education in a wide variety of fields. A competency-based approach to management education – particularly for a more sophisticated application such as matrix management – provides a solid foundation for success.

Defining role-specific competencies in an explicit way affords several important benefits beyond the overarching goal of an organization which functions effectively and efficiently. First, it provides a granular basis for training program development and for coaching and mentoring. Second, it signals specific expectations to the employee as to what constitutes successful performance, and provides yet another basis for performance evaluation, rewards and recognition. Third, it provides a basis for each participant in the organization to appreciate the competencies required of the other roles with which s/he interacts as well as their own.

In my book, Matrix Management Secrets I set forth more general suggestions concerning of matrix management competencies as well as some generic role-specific competency suggestions. Confidential clients have engaged Strategic Futures to develop competencies that are specific to one or more particular roles in their organization. This level of definition is a superior, sturdy alternative, which beats “making it up each day” by a long shot. The competency-based approach inoculates against wheel-spinning role negotiation and re-negotiation, accompanied by fumbles fizzles and foibles, not to mention fatigue. An ounce of prevention is still worth more than a pound of cure. To define essential competencies for each pivotal role in the matrix organization is just such prevention. Strategic Futures recommends it highly. We deliver.

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