Matrix Management

Managing multiple bosses, teams, and stakeholders

Many people now work in a world of multiples; multiple bosses (solid and dotted lines), multiple teams (most of our training participants are now working on an average of 4 to 5 teams) and have to manage multiple stakeholders (10 or more is not unusual).

Just do the math(s); if you have 2 bosses, 4 teams (each with 6 members) plus 10 stakeholders then you are regularly collaborating with at least 36 people.

Each of these bosses, teams and stakeholders compete for your time and attention, they all invite you to their meetings, copy you on their emails and expect you to prioritize their needs.

The first thing to realize in this world of multiples, is that you are the only person that has a complete view of your role, goals and activities priorities. If we ask any of the others involved (including your primary boss(es)), they will each have a clear view of what is important but will only have visibility of a small part of the whole.

To be successful in this matrixed world we each need to take ownership of our own clarity and our own prioritization – we cannot expect others to do it for us based on their partial picture. This tends to lead to much higher levels of autonomy and empowerment in the middle of the matrix.

There are advantages to having multiple bosses, teams and stakeholders; they can accelerate your learning, teach you to understand different perspectives, introduce you to cross-functional working and build a broader network – al useful for your personal development and future career.

But success in the complex world does require different skills including; managing competing goals, preventing collaboration overload, dynamically aligning with others, influencing without authority and managing expectations.

In general people quite enjoy complexity provided they have the skills to navigate it.

Find out more about our matrix management training programs including the skills of managing  multiple bosses, multiple teams and multiple stakeholders.

Read our new book (September 2023) Making the Matrix Work – the Agile Remix

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