Matrix Management

Small country benefits from matrix management

I was working with a regional team in Miami looking after Central Americas and the Caribbean. It was interesting to see their different view of working in the matrix organization as compared with managers in larger countries.

If you are the GM of a small geography or other business entity it can be hard to be part of a large multinational. Your parent company generates a lot of initiatives and expects you to operate at their standards – but you only have limited local resource.

Smaller markets can often suffer from “initiative overload” with central staffs of hundreds of smart people generating new ideas (and extra work) for a handful of people in their business.

One of my participants a couple of years ago was the only person in a small market who looked after both HR and Finance. She was swamped with requests for information, reporting, regular meetings and membership of global projects – on top of her 2 day jobs.

My participants this week saw the matrix as a huge opportunity to access more resources. Of course they were concerned about how to make sure their voices were heard, but at least now they can tap into some of the resources that used to be locked up in the large country silos.

The large countries often tend to feel a loss of control towards central resources; the smaller ones feel an increased opportunity to access them.

For a number of my clients a specific objective of the matrix is to free resources to focus on new markets, for example freeing up money, time and talent currently allocated to mature markets and refocusing it on growing markets like China.

It’s hard to do that whilst the mature markets “own” the resources and have no incentive to help smaller markets at the expense of their own resources and results. A common objective of the matrix is to break these silos and enable better resource allocation decisions across the business. With a finite amount to resources it is inevitable that, even if the overall organization benefits from this, some parts of the business will feel like winners and others will feel like losers.

It was nice to work with a group who felt so positive about the change and the infectious energy and enthusiasm of the people from the region also made it a great group to work with.

One of themes we worked on was how these smaller organizations could influence the centre more effectively. By organizing their influencing efforts collectively and thinking through their networking and stakeholder management approach they should be able to “punch above their weight” in accessing resources.

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