Matrix Management

Don’t do your matrix management training in silos

We deliver a lot of matrix management programs where people are challenged to work horizontally across the traditional vertical silos such as functions and geography.

These programs are often requested initially by a specific function or area of the business. Whilst we can do a great job of building confidence and capabilities for these people, the challenge is often in  managing the interfaces to other parts of the business ad different ways of working.

It’s very difficult to improve the functioning of a matrix by focusing on just one part of it.

One of the challenges is that some functions or geographies may recognize the need earlier than others and may need to make a change quickly. HR and IT often integrate early, a lot of sales activities (with the exception of global accounts) remain local as that’s where the customers are

Another challenge is that the HR business partners who often commission training are themselves dedicated to a specific silo and only hold budgets to address the challenges in their own area of responsibility.

The solution obviously is to build capability at a broader level across the organization but it can be hard to get objectives and budgets aligned to do something quickly and at scale, so many organizations choose to make a start in parts of the organization with a particular challenge.

Once they get traction and success in a particular area, it’s often easier to spread the learning and new ways of working to functions and geographies they work with more regularly.

Some organizations also use us to run interface workshops focusing on key interfaces between critical groups that need to work to get the more affectively across the business. This can also be done with specific groups needing to integrate they way they work, such as global projects.

Organizations undergoing digital transformation are seeing this very clearly. Digital is no respecter of silos and digital initiatives typically cut across the traditional organization to deliver value to an end customer.

Aligning ways of working across the people developing and operating these horizontal digital processes is essential to delivering the gains of digital transformation. If we don’t do this now, we risk digitizing the dysfunctions of our old way of working.

How does your organization create capability at scale in new ways of working? Do you find that the old silos still get in your way?

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