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Cooperation in a Matrix Organisation

A matrix organisation.

A matrix organisation is a grouping of professionals like HR officers, engineers, maintenance personnel on one hand in their professional groups and on the other hand participate in client, production oriented units.

It is designed to realize two goals at the same time: unity in the professionals standards and processes and serve best by being part of the production units. Where do people have their main workplace? Sometimes at the production unit, sometimes two, sometimes in their service department.

A specific form of a matrix organization is when all production is done in projects. Workers have their base in their professional group, but work for 90% in projects.

A functional organization

The organization says ‘you have two bosses’. One of your professional organization. Often this is the one who evaluate performances and decide on salary and career. And the other one the boss of the unit one services. This is the one who give in daily orders and asks for assistance.

Why change a functional structure?

In an organisation that is organized in isolated departments (HR, and so on) who serve other departments one has one boss, others are clients. Bosses of the ‘client organization often complain about the service they get. One solution is to change the command structure and build a matrix organization and have the people work in the client organization. Not all HR in one room, but spread all over the company.. Only meeting sometimes.

Conditions that make a matrix organization fail:

  • Have two bosses. A boss has the authority to give commands. ‘You have to do this now’ and the worker has to do what is ordered. All other relations in the company are agreement relations. One can ask someone to do something, one can refuse and one can say yes.

  • The bosses and the workers do not understand the construction of having one boss and act as having two bosses.

  • The attitude of always saying ‘yes’ to a boss.

  • Lack of personal felt freedom and the lack of skills to say ‘no’, negotiate, or say ‘yes’ and commit themselves to this promise.

Problems for the management and problems for the workers.

In the functional organization a manager of a department has to ask the service department for assistance so the bosses have to communicate. In the new situation with two bosses the boss of the client organization can give orders and the boss of the professional departments (the home base) can give orders too. They do not have to communicate. They are bosses. the workers have the problem on selecting priorities. The bosses have the problem they do not get things done.

For the worker

What can a worker do when he cannot influence, change the conditions? Some practical solutions:

  • Go on complaining to bosses and organizational support units on the conflict inducing condition of two bosses. But, Who will do this? No one.

  • Outplay the bosses by saying to each of them: ‘I got a very important order from my other boss and I do not want to get into trouble, but on the other hand I want to serve you too, my boss, but I cannot serve you both at the same time. So tell me what to do boss’.

  • Think: ‘I will solve it’ and say ‘yes’ to the orders of both bosses and start working. Then give by-the-way signals to one or both bosses about blockades on the road to the goal that makes it impossible to realize the target in time and serve the boss who is most important for him.

  • Negotiate with one boss, without saying he has an order of the other boss, to create conditions that makes it possible to realize both orders.

  • Ask people working in these conditions. They all find their way out, one has more stress to find a solutions. Others are more practical and play .

What to learn people so they survive in a better way these conditions?

  • Learn to be assertive and outplay the bosses

  • Learn to say ‘yes’ and find ways to get both things done and influence one of the dead-lines

  • Learn to negotiate with the boss on the conditions like ‘when it is the dead line, when to work on?.

  • Learn to say ‘yes’ but do ‘no’ and lie when the boss complains. ‘Oh, you are right, I had to do so many things, and so many interruptions, I will serve you as soon as possible’.

The boss

What can a boss do in the situation of two bosses? He is the one who will suffer most. He handles a lot of saying’ yes’ and doing ‘no’, negotiations and lies of the workers.

  • Practical solutions? Put more pressure on the worker. Be more tough. Reward those who do what he wants them to do. Punish those workers who do not follow his orders. Or give way to what happens and complain to his boss ‘he is not able to come up to his performances because….’

  • Fight with the other boss on who is the real boss or who’s orders have priority.

  • Learn to negotiate with the workers so they do what he wants.

  • Learn to find practical cooperative solutions with others bosses.

Structural solutions

Define what is exactly the contribution of the ‘professional organisation’ and what is the advantage of working as part of the client organization? Define who is boss in what? Relocate all staff members into the client organization: finance, HR, engineers.

© 2018 TonVoogtConsultancy ~ Recent Update 24-08-2017
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