Human Resources matrix management challenges
Human resources (HR) people have some particular challenges in matrix management.
Like everyone else, they need to work within the matrix management structure – they suffer from divided loyalties, competing priorities etc.. but there are some distinct HR management challenges too.
The model of HR business partners and specialists has become very common. In this matrix management structure the specialist may just have functional reporting lines but the business partners are closely associated with and often report to a business unit or geography too (as well as the function).
Because of this the structure sets up matrix management tensions, both between HR and the groups they support, and within HR between the business partners and the specialists.
HR business partners, particularly those who support several management groups find that they get invited to everyone’s meetings and copied on everyone’s emails. If they don’t respond or fail to turn up for the (largely irrelevant) management meetings of their client groups this can be seen as a lack of loyalty.
The needs of the local client group are nearly always urgent requirements from people the HR business partners have a good relationship with (and who have an input to their appraisals)
The longer term HR functional developments are often important but usually less urgent. In addition many of the functional projects they are asked to support are not visible to line managers or may not be valued by them relative to their short term needs.
In our research, HR was the function we found had the strongest preference for loyalty to the local (as distinct from the centre) in matrix management. Perhaps this is a function of the HR people’s (hopefully) close association with and responsibility for their local colleagues.
The impact of matrix management is often felt most keenly by people in the central functions but maybe HR has it worse than some other functions. For functions like Finance, with a long tradition of functional and professional independenc,e this may be easier to manage. Every line manager has an opinion on HR (I know – I have been both a line manager and a HR person)
Its critical that HR people learn strong matrix management skills for themselves, as well as being able to sponsor and promote the development of these skills in their organizations. Check out an interactive graphic of our matrix management learning path and module contents.
What is your experience of HR in a matrix management structure?
Explore our training programs to see how we can help.Agile & Digital Training Matrix Management Training People and purpose Training Virtual Teams Training
Educate yourself further with a few more or our online insights:
25 years of experience learning with a range of world class clients
We work with a wide range of clients from global multinationals to recent start-ups. Our audiences span all levels, from CEOs to operational teams around the world. Our tools and programs have been developed for diverse and demanding audiences.
Tailored training or off the shelf modules for your people development needs
We are deep content experts in remote, virtual and hybrid working, matrix management and agile & digital leadership. We are highly flexible in how we deliver our content and ideas. We can tailor content closely to your specific needs or deliver off the shelf bite sized modules based on our existing IP and 25 years of training experience.
For more about how we deliver our keynotes, workshops, live web seminars and online learning.