Matrix Management

Why matrix? Broader and more multi-skilled people development

Continuing our blog series looking at reasons to introduce a matrix structure. This week we look at having broader, more multi-skilled people as one of the key drivers.

(With apologies for the original mis-title! The dangers of cut and paste.)

“The matrix structure will provide tremendous opportunity for managers and team members alike and provide an outstanding opportunity for growth through the generation of more flexible, adept, globally-minded and effective leaders. It will also increase employee engagement and satisfaction by having greater visibility, professional and career development.”

Healthcare services organization 2008

When we (Global Integration) run communication events for organizations that are formally introducing a matrix, we ask them to identify the advantages and disadvantages from both the point of view of the individual and the organization.

Overwhelmingly, the major benefit seen by individuals is breadth. There are opportunities for wider careers, involvement in decisions and activities across geography and functions and the chance to build a broader network and set of skills.

Nomura is creating a matrix of regional bosses and business line heads, headed by a new overarching global role, in part to improve retention amongst executives who felt a lack of power and progression within the organization. Nomura said the changes were aimed at enhancing collaboration across different regions.
Nomura 2010

This will be of tremendous benefit to individuals who aspire to global careers, or to reach senior management. It can also give more interesting lateral career structures to individuals who want to learn new things.

However, it comes with a warning: this will not be attractive to everyone. For individuals who are not mobile or aspire to a local or purely functional career, this may be more of a risk than a benefit:

My organization has introduced a matrix brand teams structure where people with different specialisms work together closely. I used to be a marketing specialist, but now spend most of my time leading the brand team. I actually see my career as being primarily in marketing, so this isn’t really a good thing for my future.

Brand team leader, pharmaceuticals

Series of posts by Kevan Hall, CEO of Global Integration, author and speaker on matrix management and leadership.

See the Global Integration website for further information about matrix organizations or matrix management, or contact us to find out more or request our white paper on matrix management.

Note: the original introduction to this article contained a cut and paste error which has been amended since publication.

Why matrix? Broader and more multi-skilled people development

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