energizing breakthrough performance

Five Not-So-Easy Pieces of Matrix Management

Matrix-assigned staff will have legitimate concerns that need to be alleviated. Human organizations cannot be developed or maintained without high levels of communication about issues, which matter to people. The matrix raises several concerns for staff, which require proactive attention, namely:

  • Assignment Duration – An answer to the question of "how long will my matrix assignment run?" needs to be estimated for the staff member.
  • Career Visibility – Will I have fewer career opportunities because I am in the support role of fixing things that break? This will become a widespread concern unless matrix-assigned staff function in a vertical stewardship capacity pursue a proactive agenda as well as a reactive one of handling crises, e.g., fixing that which is broken. Again, staff need to be members of a vertical service provider team as well as a horizontal Business Unit team.
  • Education – Close and careful schedule coordination will be required to ensure that service provider staff in the matrix are afforded equal opportunities for training and continuing professional education as those who are not. The present-focused nature of business/operations work can stand in the way of scheduling flexibility that is needed for training. Staff may have legitimate concerns about being short-changed on training and these must be addressed methodically using Strategic Futures’ proprietary method.
  • Personnel Evaluations – Business Unit input into service provider personnel evaluations should be the rule not the exception with the requirement that horizontal team leaders who have used the staff member’s services at a pre-specified significant level will have such input; ad hoc, speculative, impressionistic, or free-for-all input should not be entertained. This input should be required rather than optional. Input should be delivered as a mandatory rule, rather than on a voluntary or exception basis. It should be done during the formative stages of personnel evaluation prior to any committee/community review. Personnel evaluation data should be analyzed over time to identify success profiles that can be used to recruit new employees suitable for matrix assignments. The Basic Matrix Role Dichotomy should define and govern the purview of each vertical and horizontal manager’s evaluation focus.
  • Staff Motivation – Staff will want to know "what’s in it for me?" Participation in the matrix should provide a level of cross-training, cross-utilization, and progressive improvements in technological, business management, and operational sophistication. Matrix assignments are growth assignments and should be recognized and rewarded as such.

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