Matrix Organization Design – Don’t Go There
By Michelle Malay Carter on April 23, 2008
Manish Kaushik posted the following question on LinkedIn:
What are the best ways to maximise work efficiency and achieve perfect interpersonal harmony in a matrix “multiple bosses” org structure – A) If you are one of the bosses, B) If you are the subordinate.
Here’s my take:
Multiple bosses is anything but efficient, and they are blatantly unfair and stress inducing. The involved parties will spend more time managing the relationships than they will getting work done.
A manager, by definition, is one who is accountable for the output of others (his direct reports). When more than one person is ultimately accountable for anything or anyone, the door is open to buck passing and conflict.
Working For Others Is Fine. Reporting to Them All is Not
It is reasonable for an employee to do work for more than one person, but the employee should always ultimately report to one person. That person, his manager, can authorize his employee to do specific tasks or project work for others, but at the end of the day the manager and only the single manager should be accountable for the employee.
Managers are accountable for assigning tasks, prioritizing, and monitoring the workload of their employees. If more than one person has the ability to assign tasks, conflict and confusion will reign.
One boss could have the employee working on a large project that takes nearly all his time (and interest), and the other boss, may become resentful and give the employee demerits for poor time management. What will that do for engagement?
The Dreaded Performance Appraisal – Twice the Misery
When it comes time for performance appraisals, whose opinion will count? What happens when one boss says, you spend too much time planning, and the other says, you need to do more planning?
Matrix organizations are a petri dish for dysfunction. My advice, stay away from them.
I had two bosses once; it was not fun for any of us. You?
I’m OK. You’re OK. Let’s fix the system.
Filed Under Requisite Organization