Matrix Management Training

Matrix Management Training

Training and consulting on managing people in cross functional and networked organization structures.

Leading people without authority, accountability without control, managing multiple bosses and competing goals.

Matrix management means different things to different people. When clients call us they can use the term matrix management to describe many things. They may include virtual working, multi-site teams, organizational complexity or dual reporting lines.

A matrixor network – organization recognizes that work today cuts “horizontally” across the traditional “vertical” silos of function and geography. We need to sell to and serve global customers, operate supply chains that cut across the world and run more integrated business processes and functions.

Management in a matrix leads to people having more than one reporting line (whether ‘solid’ or ‘dotted’) and often means working regularly with colleagues from different functions, business units and locations. In a global structure, we have additional challenges created by working across cultures and time zones.

"matrix management"

Global Integration’s training can therefore include a whole range of new skills and ways of working. It is not just a traditional management training approach with “and don’t forget you now have two bosses” added at the end. In some cases the skills people learn in managing simpler organizations can become counterproductive in a matrix, where too much cooperation, communication and  control become common symptoms. So old fashioned management training, increasing teamwork and communication, may hinder rather than help. Our training needs to reflect this reality.

We typically provide three levels of matrix management training for groups with different needs, to help lead, collaborate with others and work effectively at all levels of the organization from senior leadership to intact teams. We offer challenging new ideas, practical tools and skill development to help you be more successful in complex, matrixed and networked organizations:

For leaders: targeted at senior middle management and/or senior leaders, focussing on the strategic and leadership challenges of operating in matrix organizations with competing priorities, high levels of connection and alignment challenges. Not everyone in an organization should be part of the matrix (see our matrix consulting pages).

The majority of jobs, in most organizations, are local (the people working in our factories, retail and local sales forces for example). However, the role of senior and middle management in the matrix changes radically. Senior leaders need to create clarity, model the key behaviours and set the tone for the matrix. They are the “matrix guardians” and their support and role modelling are critical to the success of the matrix (find out more)

The ‘Matrix middle’ –the managers in the middle of the organization – experience multiple bosses and competing goals and priorities. This group is critical to the success of the matrix as they need to handle complex trade-offs and dilemmas, and exercise influence without authority and accountability without control. If we fail to build the capability and confidence of this group we will tend to see higher levels of escalation, delay and frustration.

For teams:  teamwork is different when people have multiple (often competing) priorities. These type of horizontal teams tend to have cross functional, cross-cultural and cross business unit representation and are becoming increasingly common.

This particularly complex environment demands new skills to deal with particular challenges in goal alignment and divided loyalties, in order to prevent high levels of escalation and increasing central control in an environment, where team leaders may not have any traditional authority to help get things done. We need to make sure that our collaboration skills are adapted to this more complex way of working or we will tend to see an increase in poor quality meetings, conference calls and other forms of communication, a delay in the delivery of results and dissatisfaction amongst team members.

For individuals: personal effectiveness training in how to set up and manage your network, shape your role in an ambiguous environment, to get things done through alliances with others rather than through controlling scarce resources, to manage escalation,to influence without authority alongside higher levels of ambiguity and daily trade-offs and dilemmas. Once an organization is matrixed, these become some of the basic skills of personal effectiveness, which needs to be reflected throughout our training and talent development activities.

It is clear that I had not kept the balance of control and autonomy up to date in my team. They had more experience now and were quite capable of making decisions, but I had not changed the way I managed them. We used the ‘waterline’ concept to redefine the balance. I now get far fewer calls at home: people make local decisions themselves, much faster. (Operations Manager, Financial Services)

We deliver our highly participative consulting, coaching and training services globally either face to face, online (through our unique E-learning suite) or in a blended format (including live events, webinars and online tools as appropriate).


Organization development, change management and communication

In working with hundreds of complex organizations we have learned a lot about what makes a matrix organization successful in practice.

We work with organizational development specialists to look at where the matrix adds value (many organizations take it too far down the structure) and to identify the simplest way to integrate across the structure.

Through matrix management training and consulting, we help build the skills, capabilities and confidence of individuals to succeed in the matrix. We also design effective communication and training events around the launch, refining or on-going operation of the organization structure.

By doing this we help clients communicate their objectives clearly, build support for the new structure quickly and head off some of the common mistakes and pitfalls in a matrix implementation.

Request our white paper on matrix management, ask for more information, or contact our closest office to speak to a specialist. There is a handy form on the right of this page (on most devices) to help.

Global Integration

Last updated July 2014

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