Matrix Management

Millennials demand matrix management – do you agree?


The Economic Times of India reports that the IT company Infosys is considering moving to a matrix organization in order to make itself more attractive to millennials.

R Seshasayee, Chairman of Infosys believes that a matrix way of working appeals more to these young digitally savvy employees than the traditional linear structure. “Millennials share and collaborate, they are focused on self-development and they respect talent and success and not hierarchies and age. So in that context what we will do is to completely redesign our organization, in which I see the role of HR manager becoming a choreographer, managing different groups coming together to solve problems”.

It is an interesting angle on the future of the matrix and a sharp contrast to the views and preferences of more experienced managers who have grown up more comfortable with traditional command and control and linear management. For these people undermining the hierarchy, being accountable for things they don’t control and having to get things done through influence rather than authority can feel quite uncomfortable.

So will the rise of the millennials accelerate moves to matrix management? What you think?
It’s also worth saying that I think what Infosys are describing is more matrix working than a formal matrix structure.

Strictly speaking a matrix structure is where people have more than one formal reporting line. Matrix working is work that cuts fluidly across the traditional silos of function and geography, irrespective of hierarchy and structure. I think the latter way of working is more likely to be the future and more likely to be attractive to millennials, rather than a proliferation of reporting lines.

It’s also interesting that this insight comes out of India where the traditional style of management was more hierarchical and it was harder to challenge your boss openly. The new IT companies clearly don’t subscribe to this traditional style.

From our perspective working with clients around the world we see a significant growth in the use of the matrix. It is now the structure of choice for any complex international organization that has to worry about more than just functions within a country. The modern business environment is complex and the matrix simply reflect that and gives as a flexible way of coping with that complexity.

As social media use inside companies and a preference for nonhierarchical working spread for both business reasons and personal preference it’s hard to see return to a simpler, more linear structure.

Of course this new way of working require some different skills, the ability to influence without authority, the ability to create your own clarity but also be comfortable with ambiguity, to build trust and exercise control virtually and to build new forms of communities and styles of cooperation through technology.

Unless we change our way of working, people will tend to default back to the old-fashioned ways of getting things done through hierarchy and control.

If you’d like to find out more about how to change your ways of working to make your matrix a success, why not give us a call?

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