Matrix Management Skills #3 Shaping your role

The next set of skills we train people in on our skills for matrix working training are about how to shape your own role in a matrix organizations.

In traditional organizations, people could expect relatively clear career paths with a series of roles leading (hopefully) upwards, normally in a single function over a period of years with the same employer.

Today’s employees can expect to work in different companies, locations, functions and business units, even different countries. In fast paced companies roles can appear and disappear quickly.

For many people this is very destabilizing – unfortunately for them it is becoming the reality in many matrix organizations. Other people may like the fast pace of change, flexibility and the opportunity to shape their own futures more actively – we sometimes call this the “matrix mindset”.

If you experience competing priorities, multiple bosses and a fast rate of change then you probably also have a lot of opportunity to shape your role towards the things you are most interested in.

Here are some tips on shaping your role

  1. Do the basics of your existing role well – earn the right to push into new areas by having a strong foundation of competence in your core areas
  2. Seek out opportunities to learn – look for the most sophisticated challenges, people and situations – these are higher risk but that is where the real learning and value lies.
  3. Look for scarce combinations of skills – if multifunctional or cross-cultural experienced are scarce in your company, push for these to increase your value.
  4. Have a plan – it may be hard to map out a whole career but what is your next step likely to be? With this in mind just keep increasing your probability of success by developing more skills and a broader network

In a matrix organization we each have to take more personal responsibility for shaping our roles and our careers. If we don’t know where we want to go, how will anyone else work it out?

How have you shaped your role in your organization, or is it impossible?

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