Managing the Matrix: The Secret to Surviving and Thriving in Your Organization
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A comprehensive guide to excelling in a complex matrix organization
Debra was not in a good mood as she entered Johann’s office for their third meeting. One of her colleagues had just been promoted and, although the guy who got it was good, she didn’t think he was any better than her. Well, except at one thing, he was always playing politics - sucking up to the more senior guys and volunteering to be on any committee going.
Debra knew the type - went to the same school, belonged to the same club - she didn’t have a hope against the kind of connections he had so she might as well give up. It seemed doing a good job just wasn’t enough around here.
Debra and Johann work in an environment with multiple and complex reporting lines – in other words, a matrix. There’s room to “slip between the cracks” – if a person wants to take advantage of confusion over who is managing performance; or if they can’t make the necessary transition to self-management. Communication can be difficult even when there is an apparently shared language.
Read how Johann and Debra work together to identify the skills needed to succeed in a matrix, and how using Emotional Intelligence (EI) can develop specific behaviours you can incorporate in your daily job. The result will help reduce stress and increase your chances of success.
Dawn Metcalfe, Managing Director of PDS, based in Dubai, uses her experience as a coach and trainer to give us a behind the curtain look at how mentoring can help an individual develop the skills they need to survive and thrive in today’s complex work environments.
emotionally intelligent, we can be aware of it and can adjust for it or use it. I'd certainly want to be aware if I was being overly optimistic in rating the likelihood of a project succeeding just because I'd slept well, it was sunny and my kids had aced a test! “It's not about making you more or less clever, in the usual sense. Rather it's about adopting a set of behaviours that allow you to notice, understand, and use or manage emotions.” Johann took a breath. “Can you give me
other things I had missed and that the Bodhi tree wasn't a Bodhi tree at all!” “So even when you remember to look, what you notice might be wrong too?” “Exactly. Like when Japanese people smile and laugh. Sometimes that means they're happy but it also can mean they're embarrassed. I suppose this means I think understanding is hard too.” “All of the skills are hard,” Debra suggested. “You're right. But it's worth it I think,” said Johann. “Think about it, we don't buy from
gauge things very carefully. 3. Share – your own experiences and emotions but remember it's about them. 4. Ask good questions – to yourself and others. At the right time, in the right place, for the right reasons. I have pontificated a bit in our sessions but I've asked some questions too I hope?” Debra nodded. “I didn't have to ask too many questions or try too hard with you as you opened up. But you can always get better at asking questions – both to yourself and others. They're
had had higher EI he might have anticipated that reaction!” “Good point,” Johann laughed too. “So yes, it could be anybody who uses the tools, but like an actor who wants to teach other actors, he'd better be able to explain the process. The coach or mentor needs to have that ‘Rung 5’ level of self-awareness. “But don't forget, it's about the coachee or mentee or student or whatever you want to call them too – they have to listen and take responsibility for change! “One thing
matrix design is that tension is inherent and desirable. But research shows that employees who are unaccustomed to the tension and don't have the tools to deal with it spend immense time and energy unsuccessfully trying to reduce it. Often senior management don't notice, or they don't care, suggesting foolishly that ‘the tension is built in, live with it’. “Emotionally intelligent employees are more likely to perceive the tension and its effects, understand the specific issues that are