energizing breakthrough performance

Five Not-So-Easy Pieces of Matrix Management

Matrix Principles and Methods

Staff Deployment. The vertical organization (information technology or other service provider unit) retains the prerogative to assign its staff as it sees fit. Resource management—who will perform the task?—is the prerogative of the service provider. The matrix is not a relinquishing of control of personnel. There should be no mistake that these are service provider staff—to deploy, redeploy, withdraw, replace, rotate, etc., as vertical management sees fit. Indeed, the matrix should afford the internal service provider with enhanced control by deploying personnel who can add value in maintaining professional discipline and integrity, e.g., IT architecture, security, and auditability. Matrix-assigned staff are not only in a support role of fixing things that break, they are also an "agent" of the service provider’s intentions with respect to professional standards and quality. In this way, a matrix assignment should be career-enhancing rather than career-limiting provided that these assignments are accompanied by increased organizational savvy, requisite training, and management guidance and coaching.

A matrix assignment is not a "dedicated personnel assignment." There is a potential for misunderstanding among horizontal management, vertical management, and service provider staff that a matrix assignment is a "dedicated personnel assignment" without a term limit. This misunderstanding needs to be disabled before it spreads because (1) it will create unhealthy competition for "stars" by Business Units; (2) it will demoralize staff who believe that they "drew" an undesirable assignment if they believe it to be near-permanent; and (3) it will constrain training and education accomplished through rotational assignments, mentoring arrangements, etc.

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