Matrix Management

Why senior managers underestimate the impact of a matrix

Senior managers often underestimate the impact that introducing a matrix structure has on the people below them. The reason for this is that matrix management has very little implication for you if you are at he top of the matrix. Everyone still works for you!


Immediately below this you find the people who are the heads of the “legs” of the matrix. For them too it is relatively easy to carry on thinking about their “linear” objectives.


The most senior managers who themselves have multiple reporting often resist the matrix when it is introduced. They often feel that they have lost control over functional resources that they many have “owned” in the past – for example they used to have their own dedicated Human Resources person, now they share a “business partner” with other parts of the organization.


For these reasons the people who work at the heart of the matrix – the group I call the Matrix middle can experience what feels like a lack of management support, particularly in the early stages of implementation.


In our experience, the real opponents of the new structure usually move on (one way or another) and eventually the message gets through. If it does not, then senior manager can expect to experience high levels of escalation of issues to be resolved.

DJ mentioned this problem on a comment to my previous post – have you experienced something similar?

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