The matrix organizational structure relies on a coordination of efforts and the pooling of resources among various departments in an organization. Undoubtedly, this organizational structure requires all departmental members to be comfortable in their roles. Proctor & Gamble has its Research & Development European Headquarters in the United Kingdom. Here, “the local manager wears two hats – one for his product, one for his region (Martinsons, 1994).
”Such is the matrix structure, recognizing the truth that specialists working for various departments are the resources of the whole organization, and may be required for organisational projects that seemingly have nothing to do with the departments where the specialists were originally employed. Specialists that are chosen from their respective departments to work on projects related to other departments are the pooled resources of the concerned departments, and therefore answerable not only to the managers of their own departments but also to the project managers of the departments that have borrowed their expertise (Martinsons).
Thus, the matrix organizational structure “allows a company to address multiple business dimensions using multiple command structures (Sy & Cote, 2004). ” Gone are the simple “command and control” days – welcome project management (Pasternack & Viscio, 1998)! Matrix management augments the need for linking all departments within the organisation via computer technology. Thus, this modern form of management and its corresponding organisational structure ease communications within the company.
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Moreover, the matrix structure requires the Human Resources function, like computer technology, to be used by all departments in a unique way, that is, by requiring the Human Resources employees to report not only to their functional head but also to the business departments that they have been assigned for support (Numerof & Abrams, 2002). Experts believe that this dual reporting may appear “overly complex and cumbersome” at times, overwhelming the managers with “conflicting goals (Kearney, 2003).
” All the same, CEOs continue to prefer the matrix structure over other forms of management because the matrix, when “properly implemented and managed,” is truly “a powerful tool that can actually help facilitate operations (Kearney). ” Overview of the Implementation Requirements Yet another unique feature of the matrix structure is that it helps the departments within the organisation to maintain mutual goals. The benefits of team building may easily apply to matrix structures when properly used.
Experts advise that matrix structures must be implemented with a focus on their strengths, while the weaknesses of the matrix must be managed. The fact that the benefits of team management may apply to the matrix structure is a strength of the matrix. At the same time, managers might have to deal with “conflicting goals” in the matrix organisation, and such conflicts ask for proper attention from the upper management of the organisation, which must find it possible to use the matrix despite the problems that it poses (Kearney).
In the perspective of the upper management, “the goals of one unit will always reinforce those of other units (Kearney). ” So, when functional managers or product managers disagree about the goals, the conflict must be managed so as to ensure the continuance of the matrix structure (Kearney). Indeed, the matrix calls for a high degree of cooperation and coordination within the organisation. Despite “confusion over responsibilities” that might appear from time to time, it is the responsibility of the upper management to ensure continuity of the matrix (Kearney).
Additionally, the organisation is advised by experts to use the following techniques to overcome the challenges of the matrix:Clearly define and redefine the expectations to the employees; Provide ongoing training for working through the matrix; and Institute “formal job rotation to broaden employees skills, perspectives and appreciation for other parts of the business (Kearney). ” Sy & Cote state that matrix management is intricately connected with the emotional intelligence of the organisation and its employees.
Given that the modern matrix calls for unity among employees and departments in the realization of organisational goals, matrix performance may also lead the organisation as a whole to increase its emotional intelligence. Provided that the matrix is managed properly, and the upper management is sufficiently involved in its maintenance, an increase in emotional intelligence would also help the organisation connect better with its customers and other stakeholders.
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