Matrix Management

Can working in a matrix make you feel more engaged?

As part of their lengthy study into the state of the American Workplace based on over 195,000 employees across a range of industries, Gallup looked specifically at employees that worked in matrix organizations and found that:  “the more matrixed employees are, the more likely they are to strongly agree that being on different teams is beneficial for collaboration, creativity, decision-making, performance, productivity and customer relationships.”

Gallup conclude that the move to more matrixed and collaborative ways of working appears to be a ‘step in the right direction’.  Interestingly, as we mentioned in a previous blog, Gallup also found that as well as being good for the organization, highly-matrixed employees report being more engaged than non-matrixed employees of a similar level, and that being on different teams helps them do their best work.

This most recent Gallup study digs into why this might be – and reports that compared with non-matrixed employees, highly-matrixed employees are:

  • 58% more likely to strongly agree that their opinions at work count
  • 40% more likely to strongly agree that their coworkers are committed to quality
  • 39% more likely to strongly agree that someone at work encourages their development
  • 29% more likely to strongly agree that someone at work cares about them

Note they define highly -matrixed employees as employees who work on multiple teams every day with different people and who report to different managers.

This is a very different picture than the one we often hear of how the matrix makes work a nightmare, or at least very complicated. As always, it depends on the mindset you choose to view it from – those that view it from the positive position of a true ‘matrix manager’ making the most of all the benefits it can bring will feel more engaged and be more successful than those that constantly have their ‘matrix victim’ hat on.

It’s not just Gallup that are noting the benefits of matrix working. One engineering and design firm we support have recently achieved record results with their best operating profit in history in 2017 and a strong order book for 2018.

Last year this firm introduced a matrix structure, and we partnered with them to help make the transition to matrix working a success. Linking back to the benefits of a positive ‘matrix mindset’, what was noticeable was the enthusiasm and energy from the CEO down for the new way of matrix working. In training sessions and key notes, employees were excited about making the matrix work and were immediately thinking about how they could apply the tools to help them.

The matrix is good for business, and as Gallup has shown, good for individuals too.

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