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Management by Matrices

The need for organizational management is of crucial importance when it comes to running a company. Different departments need to be handled and monitored closely while at the same time working together with each department. Throughout time, there have been many theories and principles on organizational management. Not all of them will work in a specific company; it takes time to find the right match and the best suited for the organization’s operations. Today, many companies are using Matrix Management or Management by Matrices. It is an excellent type of management but while it may be beneficial for some companies, the same is not true for all.

Matrix Management or Management by Matrices

What is Matrix Management? It is a type of organizational management wherein people with the same skill sets are grouped together for work assignments. This process is also called pooling. For instance, all IT engineers are pooled together and are under the IT engineering department. They report to one engineering manager. However, IT engineers can still work in different projects in the organization. When they do, they will report to the project manager as well. To sum it up, instead of reporting to only one head manager, subordinates of a department will have to report to several managers if they are appointed to different tasks.

Three Types of Management by Matrices

Since the 1960s, there have been three types of matrices that came out namely: the weak, strong, and balanced.

  • The Weak Matrix is the most basic type of Management by Matrices. Here, the project manager supervises the people working under him but still continues to report to a higher functional manager. This process allows the increase in communication between the two areas, which is beneficial for the departments that are vertically linear to each other.

  • The second is called the Strong Matrix. This type of matrix gives independence to the project manager and is given full functional management over the subordinates and the project. What does a functional manager do? He gives support to his subordinates by providing technical know-how plus the resources needed to complete a project. This type of matrix has a high tendency to accumulate tension especially when it comes to acquiring resources and monetary spending. It needs efficient communication inside the team as well as flexibility in different circumstances.

  • The last type is called the Balanced Matrix. This type balances accountability and power between the project manager and the functional manager. At first glance, the word ‘balance’ makes it seem like this is an ideal matrix model. However, introducing the balance of control, power, and responsibility for both managers may prove to be a challenge. Because of this, there is a stronger need for efficient communication which makes this type of matrix complicated to use.

Advantages of Management by Matrices

Companies use matrix Management because it benefits them in many ways. Organizations say that using matrices helps the departments to communicate information with each other and it paves the way for career progression among employees (subordinates and managers). Here is a list of the advantages of using Matrix Management in your company.

  • Because of several ongoing projects, employees will have the chance to be chosen to be part of a project where they can invest ideas and excel.

  • The idea of a project team enables employees to be more dynamic in terms of their approach in handling problems. The new environment serves as a venue for all minds to work together rather than a manager deciding on his own.

  • The project manager gets control and responsibility in finishing the project. This includes finishing before the deadline as well as determining the budget needed for a specific project.

The Disadvantages of Matrix Management

As mentioned, Matrix Management is not for everyone. There are organizations that benefit from this type of management while there those that do not. Most of the complaints have something to do with loyalty confusion among subordinates and the outdated method of organization management.

One of the main disadvantages of Matrix Management is conflict of loyalty among subordinates, line managers and project managers. This loyalty conflict stems from the allocation of resources. Another disadvantage is the difficulty in monitoring different project teams if they are given complete independence, especially when the teams are spread out geographically. Lastly, the organization should expect an increase in their overhead expenses as they are now paying more managers.

Why Should Matrix Management Be Used?

Although Matrix Management seem like it will just make matters more complicated, the matrices do help an organization greatly. For one, project teams have accessibility to needed resources. With no limits to resources, project teams are able to work better as they can maximize their skills and help one another. This encourages coordination among team members as well as more efficient communication between subordinates and managers. Furthermore, the matrix structure allows balance within the organization. Since there is more efficient communication and better coordination, the project teams will become more productive.

Matrix Management is quite complicated if you look at it closely. Even though it provides a structure that can be easily controlled due to hierarchy of command, there are still some gray areas to it. Some companies can continue with this gray area present while others may breakdown because of it. The right choice of organizational management to use isn’t decided upon overnight. Most often, organizations take years and years before they finally get the right mix of organizational management that they should be using. And yes, it’s not just one type. Managing a company needs the perfect mix of management techniques and methods.

If you have a company that is running several campaigns internally and externally, using this type of management will probably be best for you. If you are able to run the matrices correctly, project teams from different locations, skills and languages can be brought together easily. Thus, a unified coordination of ideas and efforts will be put into effect. Coordination doesn’t only happen vertically but in a linear manner, too.