Magazine article New Zealand Management

Managing through the Matrix

Magazine article New Zealand Management

Managing through the Matrix

Article excerpt

Q I want to restructure my business so that people are able to work in different groups as the need arises. This means that they will report to two or three different managers at any one time: I think this is generally called 'matrix management'. Will it work?

A Yes this is definitely 'matrix management'. few years ago I would have recommended you stay well clear of taking this step. However now I say go ahead if it makes sense to you, but do it with care.

Traditionally management has developed through a need for structure and organisation. This was best achieved through hierarchies. This leads to cultures and behaviours that are formal and work on a follower/leader principle.

While this worked well when people were more used to a regimented approach to life, it's a lot less effective in a world where people are better educated, want more autonomy and a wider range of work experiences--and where organisations have to be more flexible,

The internal workings of an organisation consequently tend to be more project based and organic. People come together to achieve specific outcomes, then disband and reform to achieve something else. Good examples of this are in the film industry and also in the larger consulting firms.

Hence matrix management. However, it does require different skills--in leadership and in relationships so people can move in and out of different work groups without stress for themselves and without creating stress for others.

Being IT savvy is important and it also helps if each person in this type of organisation has what's termed an anchor manager. This is someone who has a commitment to supporting them with mentoring, coaching and personal development plans.

Matrix management is a more organic structure than the traditional hierarchical one but it is evolving naturally and successfully as work styles change.

Q Help! I woke up on Monday morning and felt I just couldn't get out of bed. I made myself get up and go to work but I feel like I am dragging a huge weight around with me and I also feel as though I can't breathe easily. I haven't told anyone how I feel but did go to the doctor for a physical check up. All the vital signs were normal but I still feel lousy. …

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