Last Updated 28 Jan 2021

Negative Politics

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Research has shown that another problem related to the matrix organizational structure is the fact of negative organizational politics used by functional managers while assigning scare resources between the different projects. Functional managers can make mistakes with regards to the prioritization of projects because they want to please some customers at the expense of others, for example (Pitagorsky, 1998). The Bureau of Engineering had experienced problems of this nature even before the implementation of the matrix organizational structure (Kuprenas).

Kuprenas describes the process by which the organization was able to overcome the problem: Upon the shift to a matrix structure, the Bureau created, published and began use of a formal project prioritization process under the signature of the City Engineer. The process assigns each project within the Bureau a specific rank. Without Program Manager approval (in essence re-prioritization), no work is to be done on a lower rank project until the higher rank project is complete.

Project templates Handshake Agreements are still used to establish functional team performance measures, but politicization of the team effort by the functional manager is eliminated by the new prioritization protocol. With the use of this new prioritization protocol, new projects can still be added to a program. When a new or ‘‘rush’’ project now enters a Bureau program, the importance of the project is assessed by the program manager using the flowchart to determine whether any ongoing design work should be stopped. If the ongoing work is stopped or resources reallocated, then clear documentation exists for the switch in the functional manager resource’s effort and the change is at the discretion of senior executive level staff rather than the functional manager (56-59).

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Training in Skills The myriad interfaces in the matrix organizational structure call for employees to develop strong communication skills in addition to the ability to effectively work in teams, just as the dual authority system requires individuals that are adaptive as well as comfortable with ambiguous situations so as to prevent negativity with regards to job satisfaction and motivation (El-Najdawi & Liberatore, 1997).

To prevent decreases in morale, therefore, the Bureau of Engineering managed the organizational change by immediately beginning the training of its staff. All people were trained specifically in coping with the organizational shift, communication, in addition to working as part of teams. Furthermore, the Bureau of Engineering trained its staff to help others adapt to the organizational change by exploring how disorientation may have a negative impact on individuals as well as teams. Project Manager Mentoring

Research has further revealed that a successful matrix organizational structure requires development programs that are specific to the project managers. These training or development programs allow for the project managers to develop a common understanding and language of the processes of management (Johns, 1999). Thus, the Bureau of Engineering used a development program that had been prescribed by research literature on matrix organizational structures – mentoring. This program allowed the new project managers of the organization to receive support and direction in the performance of their tasks.

It also helped key staff to understand the responsibilities of the new project managers. Thus, weekly sessions of mentoring proved to be a source of help for the matrix organizational structure at the Bureau of Engineering (Kuprenas). Project Planning Another problem related to the matrix organizational structure is that it increases the power of the functional managers as compared to the project managers. Hence, the functional managers may lack “project level focus (Kuprenas, 60).

” At the Bureau of Engineering, a number of functional managers were of the opinion that nothing had changed seeing as they continued to have supervisory authority over their staff. Thus, the organization had to resolve this issue by formalizing an “annual project planning process (Kuprenas, 60). ” This process helps the functional managers to recognize the significance of project delivery. Additionally, the plan created by the organization – the “Work Program Resource Report” – includes all of the projects that all functional teams within a program are expected to conclude (Kuprenas, 60).

Conclusion and Recommendations Most of the problems related to the implementation of the matrix organizational structure concern training as well as changes in responsibilities. At the same time, however, it is a recognizable fact that the support of the organizational members is crucial in the implementation of the matrix structure. Hence, the organization is required to take into consideration the needs of its employees in the light of its own mission while implementing the matrix structure.

The employees of the organization need to be clear about their new responsibilities and roles within the matrix organizational structure. As discussed in the previous section, the creation of summarized lists of new responsibilities and roles for the project and functional managers should be considered a necessity. Moreover, if there is a possibility that other organizational members, e. g. the functional team members, may be confused with regard to their reporting duties in the matrix structure, different summarized lists may be used for the remaining members of the organization as well.

The matrix structure calls for the creation of new reporting systems within the organization. For the new reporting system to work effectively, the organization should develop a central control system of project management that permits it to control and monitor its projects. The control system should be detailed enough for all managers to access reports on the performance of specific teams with respect to the projects. In addition, the control system should include formal agreements between the managers about the current projects.

In order to prevent negative politics from delaying the completion of important projects, the organization should also develop a protocol for the prioritization of projects. The functional managers should not have to prioritize projects based on their personal interests. The program management should play a central role in the prioritization of projects. In addition, as part of the implementation of the matrix structure, the organization should train its employees to cope with organizational change; help other organizational members with change; effectively communicate; and work in teams.

This would help the organizational members to increase their emotional intelligence. Project managers also require training. Mentoring has been recognized as an excellent method to help the managers develop a common understanding and language of the processes. Lastly, the organization should develop a project planning procedure so that all managers are clear about the project delivery deadlines as well as the performance expected of them. Teams in the matrix structure are additionally expected to have their functions clarified through the project plan.

Seeing that all of the above recommendations are backed by evidence-based analysis, the organization is sure to experience successful implementation of the matrix structure through them.


Caruso, D. R. , Mayer, J. D. , & Salovey, P. (2002). Emotional intelligence and emotional Leadership. In Riggio, R. , Murphy, S. , & Pirozzolo, F. J. (Eds), Multiple Intelligences and Leadership. Hilldale, New Jersey: Lawrence Earlbaum Associates, pp. 55-74. El-Najdawi, M. K. , & Liberatore, M. J. (1997). Matrix management effectiveness: an update for research and engineering prganizations. Project Management Journal, vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 25–31.

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