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What is... a matrix organization structure, you may ask?

Dec 14, 2020
(updated: Dec 6, 2022)
Lesson duration: 5 min

Every business has an organizational structure that defines how responsibilities are delegated. Every business uses this structure to achieve their desired goals. But have you ever considered how the structure of your business impacts your performance? 

Millennials and Gen Z are challenging traditional hierarchical structures. Instead, they are opting to break the monotonous status quo by re-examining how their organizations can maximize performance.

Enter The Matrix Organisational Structure.

A matrix structure can be pictured as a grid. 

It is an approach to management where employees have multiple managers.

Rather than a traditional structure whereby an employee would report directly to their line manager, a matrix structure enables collaboration across all departments. 

This style gives your employees more than one manager to report to depending on the task. Using a matrix structure yields higher productivity from team members, agility and maximization of the talents of your workforce..

Every employee in your business was chosen for how their specific talents can be applied within the organization. However, we all know that over time a job description from when you hired the person versus the ever-changing needs of your business can vary dramatically and rapidly. 

One person alone may not have strengths in every area and one manager alone may not have encountered every problem. This is where a matrix structure becomes useful as it encourages different departments to combine their expertise in their respective functions and skillsets.

A matrix structure can be best optimized in large scale projects that require a diverse range of knowledge in a short amount of time. These projects need a structure that can respond to these requirements without breaking existing functions within the organization.

As with any transformation, there advantages and disadvantages worth noting before deciding if this type of matrix is right for your business.

Advantages of a matrix structure

  • If your business is strapped on budget, this matrix is great for maximizing the efficiency of resources and knowledge from existing employees.
  • Allows for open communication with multiple managers giving a clear and direct message for the employee.
  • Exchanging knowledge provides all employees with an opportunity to work with different departments and continuously learn new things.
  • Information sharing between more teams means that all employees develop a better understanding of company goals.
  • Employees ramp up quickly because of their exposure to many parts of the business means they adapt quickly. In the long run, this can work out being financially beneficial when you don’t need to hire more staff.

Disadvantages of a matrix structure

There are many disadvantages of a matrix structure that are worth considering within your organization.

  • Conflicts can arise between deadlines from different managers
  • Unclear who is accountable if things go wrong
  • Confusion for employees of who to report to
  • No clarity for performance evaluation post-project
  • Unclear who would be responsible for coaching and development of employee if tasks vary too quickly and often
  • Risk employees becoming too thinly spread and reduce individuals capability
  • Can be ambiguous for employees
  • Isn’t necessary if employees work in isolation

Most of these disadvantages can be overcome through clearly developing and defining how the matrix will work within your organization. 

Matrix management can be the solution for your business to tackle large scale projects while remaining cost-effective and utilizing your internal skill set.

Succeeding with implementing this management style involves active communication from the get-go. If you’re interested in using an action priority matrix to set priorities, we’ve got you covered. Click here to learn more. Good luck!

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