What is Matrix Management?

Matrix Management

Being an effective leader of a team in the new normal corporate world is challenging, but what about leading teams that don’t answer to you?

Team members are less inclined to listen diligently to leaders of teams that aren’t in their silos.

This can easily lead to miscommunication, wasted time, and project delays all along the supply chain.

In this episode of The Leadership Detectives, Albert and Neil sat down to discuss ways in which leaders can lead without authority – using Matrix Management.

With all the leadership training we do, this is a problem that comes up time and again: the frustration of support teams not doing what you need them to.

How do you get them to understand your vision?

Albert and Neil share their nuggets of leadership wisdom, and how you can start applying matrix management in your leadership immediately.

The Matrix Management Premise

Matrix management was developed out of a need for a management structure that could cater for workers who technically report to more than one person.

Employees in different functions and divisions are distributed into project teams, where they work with colleagues from other divisions.

Matrix management is widely used in the corporate world, mainly because of the superior productivity it manifests compared to the traditional vertical management structure.

For example, a content writer in a marketing agency will likely answer to a content manager, as well as a project manager.

Effective Matrix Management Advice

Treat other teams like they still work for you

The fact that support teams report to someone else in the company’s HR systems doesn’t mean they’re not adding value to your project, your mission, and your overall goals.

If there are functions important to your current objectives, bring them in and include them in conversations as much as your own teams.

One good example of this is in the military, where all the different organs work together – under one overarching leadership – to achieve a common plan.


Let all teams know they add important value

A critical component of matrix management is effective communication; making sure that auxiliary teams know they play a role and add value to the whole picture.

They are likely not to assume this on their own, so letting them know before kicking off any project is important.

No organisational function is less important than the other. Successful businesses rely on all employees doing there jobs well, and in the greater scheme of things – all roles are equal in importance.


Ask support teams how you can support them

When it comes to the corporate world of business, no man is an island.

Even the support teams need to feel like they have a strong support structure, so looking into this before working together could identify areas where you can add value.

How can you (as a sales manager) help them (your support teams) be more successful?

Not only does answering this question show support teams you care about their jobs and their productivity, but you also stand to get clearer communication and better quality work out of them.


Increase motivation through having fun

Just because you and your support teams know how to have fun doesn’t mean you aren’t taking your jobs seriously.

On the contrary, being the fun group in the organisation – that makes it a mission to turn frowns upside-down – can lead to infectious motivation that runs through the entire company.

People react to the way you treat them. If you’re treating support teams like suppliers, but your own teams like close family, this will really have an impact on support team motivation.


Translate your vision for all to understand

If setting a vision for your own team is important, it’s important for your whole team – including support teams that don’t work for you.

Leaders should be clear on what ‘good work’ looks like, what the mission and objectives are, and what the support team KPIs are.

When the people in your team are unsure as to exactly what is expected, you can bet that your support teams are going to be even more in the dark.


Be a member to earn the team’s trust

Many leaders, who get dropped into difficult matrix management situations, start off with a shake-up and a hit-the-ground-running approach.

The team was functional before the new leader arrived, and might not appreciate having all of their hard work undermined on day one.

Instead, leaders should become members of their new teams. They should get to know their support teams personally, and understand the systems they have in place before starting to change them.

Albert and Neil discuss these matrix management topics and more in this 25-minutes episode of The Leadership Detectives.

Listen to the entire episode.

Found this article inspiring?

We are always keen to chat with anyone about how they can improve their leadership skills, so to get in touch, feel free to reach out to us on neil@xnrg.co.uk or albert.joseph@excelleration.co.uk.

Alternatively, find out more about how The Leadership Detectives could help you by booking a free coaching session with us via our website.

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