Matrix Management

Performance appraisal in a matrix: the series

Performance management and appraisal in a matrix organization structure is different. We may have more than one boss and our colleagues are likely to be in multiple locations, perhaps even different countries and time zones. Our HR processes need to adapt to this new reality.

Performance appraisal  fundamentally changes in a matrix because there are many more stakeholders involved, each with different perspectives based on the part of the individual’s work that they see and also perhaps on different personalities, cultures and perspectives.

In a successful matrix implementation, we match strategy, structure, systems and skills. The performance management, appraisal, pay and career development processes are important human resources (HR) systems that must be aligned to this new way of working for the matrix to succeed.

The traditional appraisal process with just the individual and the boss involved becomes much more complex. Where we have more than one manager formally involved in objective setting and evaluation it’s important to get each of them aligned on the key messages.

In a matrix these different managers are likely to be from different functions and may well be paying attention to different aspects of the individual’s performance. The functional role and the business role are often the two that are in tension in a matrix. Even if individual has made the right call by, for example, prioritising the business issue over a functional issue, it could lead to very different evaluations of their performance from the two strands of the matrix.

Here are some common challenges we have seen in our client organizations:

  1. What is the process and who does what, what happens if there is a dispute?
  2. How should we structure goals and measures of success?
  3. Who should evaluate performance?

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