If you are an employee in a large organization, a freelancer or a consultant, you have probably worked in the matrix structure without being fully aware about it. A matrix structure is usually a combination of a vertical (product/service P&L Unit) and a horizontal function (Finance, Marketing, HR, IT, etc) and is implemented to facilitate balanced decision-making and flexibility.  In other words – welcome to working in complexity where you may have all the responsibility but without the necessary authority.

More and more companies are gravitating towards matrix organizations to deal with the increasingly dynamic and chaotic work environments. Gartner highlighted these changes in their predictions for the world of work in this decade:

“Work will become less routine, characterized by increased volatility, hyper connectedness, ‘swarming‘ and more,” said Tom Austin, vice president and Gartner fellow. By 2015, 40 percent or more of an organization’s work will be ‘non-routine’, up from 25 percent in 2010. “People will swarm more often and work solo less. They’ll work with others with whom they have few links, and teams will include people outside the control of the organization,” he added. “In addition, simulation, visualisation and unification technologies, working across yottabytes of data per second, will demand an emphasis on new perceptual skills.”

Sounds familiar? If you are in the business management/operations role like me, this style of working is the norm and not the exception and it needs some special skills and abilities to successfully navigate your way through the organization. Based on what has worked for me and what hasn’t, I have put together my five working tips that help in adapting and being effective (and happy) in working in roles that give you responsibility without immediately clear authority:

Working Tip #1 – Know what you need to achieve:

This is rule number one – Knowing what you need to achieve before you embark on an initiative involving different teams helps you to keep your eyes on your goal and not get blind-sided by the priorities of the other teams. Of course the ultimate goal would be the one that the organisation has set and has necessitated the working in the matrix structure and you need to be aligned to that  but you also are solely responsible for your part of the whole and that is why in every meeting or interaction, it is necessary for you to remember that. This helps you to ensure that the working plan is moving towards that goal at all times and give your inputs with that clarity when it is time for group decision-making (helps combat “groupitis” or death by committee scenarios).

Working Tip #2 – Let go of the need to be liked:

The desire to be liked, to be popular is a very strong human driver and this is quite normal. But be careful that this does not become a “need” that drives the way you operate at work. It leads to making compromises that you are not comfortable with because they are not aligned to your internal ethical compass. Don’t go with the herd mentality because you are afraid that speaking up or standing up for something will make you unpopular. Not everyone everywhere will like you and that’s okay – you are not at work to win a popularity contest. Just treat everyone with respect (the way you would want to be treated by others) and focus on the work. You will get more done and be happier too.

Working Tip #3 – Sharpen your conflict-management skills:  

You have to be comfortable with conflict as it is a given in situations where people from different functions or roles need to work together. Understanding conflict management techniques is important to reach a resolution quickly (and with the least amount of blood-bath). To quote of one of my favourite leadership bloggers, Mike Myatt, from his post on workplace conflicts

“Don’t fear conflict; embrace it – it’s your job. While you can try and avoid conflict (bad idea), you cannot escape conflict. The fact of the matter is conflict in the workplace is unavoidable. It will find you whether you look for it (good idea – more later) or not. The ability to recognize conflict, understand the nature of conflict, and to be able to bring swift and just resolution to conflict will serve you well as a leader – the inability to do so may well be your downfall.”

And also, you need to be wise enough to pick your battles with care.

Working Tip #4 – Escalation is not the best solution:

Don’t be trigger happy with hitting the escalation button. This should be your last option when working in a matrix organization and there are many reasons for this – the main one being that trust and teamwork is the foundation for a successful matrix organization. And a blame-game attitude poisons the foundation pretty fast. (Pardon me for all the “killing” analogies – it is a side-effect of working in the corporate world for so long :)).

Moreover an escalation may not work as the final decision-making authority would not be your immediate superior – in a matrix org, it is usually the CEO or a level lower than her and do you really want to go whining all the way there when you have other options to make things work ? Also by escalating, you let go of all the influence that you have managed to build so far – and influence trumps authority to get things done in complex organizations.

Working Tip #5 – Communication is key:

I have saved this for the last as it is a common thread for all the earlier tips. For you to be successful in a matrix organization – you have to get personal. You have to take the time to know every person that you are working with directly or indirectly – their strengths and weakness, their goals and needs. Strive to understand before being understood. And for that you have to communicate. Be open and transparent about yourself. Listen. Interact. Absorb. Empathize. Thank often. Criticize less. Give credit often. Build relationships. Pick up the phone when emails seem to be getting shorter and cc lists getting longer. Meet up/Video when you think phone conversations and calls seems to be getting you nowhere. Communication helps break down the vertical and horizontal silos, improves relationships and creates an effective “groupthink” environment that further promotes teamwork and trust.

I believe that these are skills that can be developed and honed and really help in leading and working in a matrix operating environment. And ALWAYS in your work, as Seth Godin says – Be open, generous and connected:

Open to new ideas, leaning forward, exploring the edges, impatient with the status quo… In a hurry to make something worth making.

Generous when given the opportunity (or restless to find the opportunity when not). Focused on giving people dignity, respect and the chance to speak up. Aware that the single most effective way to move forward is to help others move forward as well.

and connected. Part of the community, not apart from it. Hooked into the realities and dreams of the tribe. Able and interested in not only cheering people on, but shining a light on how they can accomplish their goals.

What do you think?  Have you come across any challenges while working in matrix organizations ? What makes you lose your cool and what helps you get your “balance” back? Have these tips worked for you ? I would love to hear and learn from you.

Pic Courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevecorey/7281531296/


    • Judy Gombita (@jgombita)
    • June 05, 2013

    Really liked this post, Suchitra, as much of it speaks to the “communicator” in me.

    So what I’m curious about: Which of these five tips do you find the EASIEST and the HARDEST to do?

    • Suchitra Mishra
    • June 06, 2013

    Thank you, Judy – and thanks so much for mentioning me in your post comments too (http://windmillnetworking.com/2013/05/31/fidelity-byte-distilling-corporate-character-in-pr-2-0-minutes/) – as always, honoured.

    To your question, the hardest one for me in conflict management – work is personal for me and sometimes I find it hard to keep my cool in conflict situations. As one of my mentors told me this week, I have to learn to be dispassionate – got to work on that.

    And the easiest one is communication (yes, even though I am an introvert :)) – I love the “people” aspect of my work and have built many great relationships over the years. I take time to “know” people and then navigating through the organisation becomes much easier.


    • Five Skills Key to Successful Business Operations Management – You Could be Great at Operations if.. | Suchitra Mishra
    • June 19, 2013

    […] strengths is extremely important to meet objectives – in an operational role where you have to work mainly in a matrix structure where you have lots of responsibility but not always the required hierarchical authority, this […]

    • Five Tips to Navigate your Way Successfully thr...
    • July 05, 2013

    […] If you are an employee in a large organization, a freelancer or a consultant, you have probably worked in the matrix structure without being fully aware about it. A matrix structure is usually a co…  […]

    • Five Keys to set up a Successful Project Management Office – Business Operations Performance Management | Suchitra Mishra
    • October 05, 2013

    […] reporting view of all the projects in the organization. Before you can jump in and start up a PMO, you must first gain clarity and agreement on what you are doing and why. Communicate this information to clients, stakeholders and your own staff so that everyone starts […]

    • Five Workplace Attitudes that can make Work FUN and help You Succeed too – Operational Excellence | Suchitra Mishra
    • November 10, 2013

    […] This one works well to counter one of the biggest energy drainers – office politics. You have to know this game but not be an active player in this game. It sucks you in till one day you wake up and realize you […]

    • Five Secret Killers of Company Growth - Business Operations Performance Management | Resources | Oorja Biz Ops
    • November 13, 2015

    […] important to set a structure to the company, it becomes very limiting when bureaucracy sets in and meritocracy is overlooked especially in today’s dynamic business environment. If every new idea or initiative has to go […]

    • Lilly
    • March 17, 2021

    Greetings from Florida! I’m bored to death at
    work so I decided to browse your site on my iphone during lunch
    break. I really like the information you present here and can’t
    wait to take a look when I get home. I’m amazed at how fast your
    blog loaded on my mobile .. I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G ..
    Anyhow, fantastic blog!

    • canadian pharmacies ed pills
    • April 12, 2021

    canadian customs pills vitamins https://canadapillstorex.com/ canadian weight loss pills

    • best ed pills
    • April 13, 2021

    erectile solutions https://canadaerectiledysfunctionpills.com/ does erectile dysfunction mean heart problems

    • purchase sildenafil 100 mg
    • April 14, 2021

    best price sildenafil uk https://eunicesildenafilcitrate.com/ price of sildenafil

    • z pack zithromax
    • April 20, 2021

    zithromaz https://zithromaxes.com/ zithromax drug class

    • generic tadalafil united states
    • April 21, 2021

    tadalafil daily use https://elitadalafill.com/ tadalafil generic

    • buy viagra online from canada
    • April 22, 2021

    getting viagra from canada with no prescription https://canadaviagrastore.com/ buying viagra in canada

    • vardenafil vs tadalafil which is better?
    • April 23, 2021

    vardenafil generic https://vegavardenafil.com/ purchase vardenafil online

    • canadian pills online
    • April 25, 2021

    canadian pills online https://canadapillstorex.com/ canadian diet pills

    • how does alprostadil treat erectile dysfunction
    • April 25, 2021

    alprostadil injection video https://alprostadildrugs.com/ what is alprostadil

    • is it illegal to by viagra from canada
    • May 02, 2021

    what is the brand name for the generic drug for viagra in canada https://canadaviagrastore.com/ buy viagra online from canada

    • priligy
    • May 07, 2021

    priligy price dapoxetine 10 mg

    • clonidin
    • May 08, 2021

    chloroquine phosphate medicine https://chloroquineorigin.com/ chloraquine

    • Inhatstut
    • May 09, 2021


    • Inhatstut
    • May 11, 2021

    cialis price

    • avana
    • May 15, 2021

    avana india avanafil vs cialis

    • brimonidine
    • May 16, 2021

    brimonidine use brimonidine eye drops

    • Wilburwex
    • May 16, 2021

    buy cheap cialis uk: buy cialis with paypal cialis online without prescription
    generic cialis daily pricing

    • Frankknick
    • May 17, 2021

    ed meds online without doctor prescription: erectile dysfunction pills – male ed pills

    • Frankknick
    • May 18, 2021

    ed meds online without doctor prescription: ed remedies – new treatments for ed

    • Frankknick
    • May 19, 2021

    buy doxycycline online: buy doxycycline – doxycycline 100mg tablets

    • ArthurFaini
    • May 20, 2021

    buy cialis tadalafil0 with pay pal: buy cialis ebay how to buy cialis online from canada

    • ArthurFaini
    • May 21, 2021

    buy cialis without perscription: buy cialis toronto buy cialis toronto

    • ArthurFaini
    • May 22, 2021

    cialis soft tablet: cialis online without prescription buy cialis online in canada

    • ArthurFaini
    • May 23, 2021

    cialis 5mg tablet: how to get ciails without a doctor buy cialis ebay

    • ArthurFaini
    • May 24, 2021

    cialis soft tablet: cialis 20mg usa can i buy cialis in toronto

    • Robbiecible
    • May 24, 2021

    order viagra online generic viagra without a doctor prescription – 100 mg viagra lowest price

    • combigan
    • May 25, 2021

    combigan generic prices combigan eye drops

    • cyclomune
    • May 25, 2021

    cyclosporine ophthalmic buy cyclomune online

    • Robbiecible
    • May 25, 2021

    viagra for sale buy viagra professional – viagra samples

    • Robbiecible
    • May 27, 2021

    canadian pharmacy coupon: mexican pharmacy online – canadianpharmacymeds com

    • RobertVam
    • May 27, 2021

    п»їhow much does cialis cost with insurance: order original cialis online buy cialis online viagra

    • renaud muselier
    • May 28, 2021

    chloroquinw https://chloroquineorigin.com/# – chloroquine phosphate generic cholorquine

    • RobertVam
    • May 28, 2021

    cialis 20mg for sale: cheapest generic cialis australia cost of tadalafil without insurance

    • RobertVam
    • May 31, 2021

    buy cialis online generic: buy cialis with paypal cialis original for sale

    • Inhatstut
    • June 06, 2021

    cialis on line

    • Inhatstut
    • June 07, 2021

    what is kamagra oral gel

    • Inhatstut
    • June 09, 2021

    cialis 5mg online

    • Inhatstut
    • June 11, 2021

    how to buy cialis

    • Inhatstut
    • June 15, 2021

    amiloride furosemide

    • Inhatstut
    • June 15, 2021

    buy propecia

    • Inhatstut
    • June 16, 2021

    best place to buy cialis online

    • Inhatstut
    • June 17, 2021


    • Inhatstut
    • July 21, 2021

    soft tab cialis

    • Inhatstut
    • July 22, 2021

    buy cialis professional

    • Inhatstut
    • July 25, 2021

    buy cialis online with prescription

Leave reply:

Your email address will not be published.