Sunday, May 15, 2011

Matrix organizations - are we forgetting something?

The other day, a senior leader in an organization, over a coaching conversation shared the fact that he was
'just losing it'. Being quite a seasoned player, quite competent at his work, respected by both his team and peers,   this was definitely not a competency or a behaviour issue. Going over his organization structure, he had his insight. He had one reporting manager and 27 dotted line managers. Getting to know this fact and recognising the pressure that this produced led him to take up specific steps to make his own life better.

I use the framework of roles to help my coachees come to terms with, put in place an effective mechanism to manage and finally be successfull in a matrix organization. Roles as a concept are not new. They were researched by Katz and Kahn and later pioneering work on roles was done by Late Dr. Udai Pareek in India. The concept of roles is very simple to understand and implement.

What is a role?
It is the summary of expectations from an individual at the workplace. It includes his own expectations as well as those of people who are significant to his being successful the role.

Role space
It is a pictorial depiction of the different roles I play; at home (dad, son, husband, driver, couch potato, etc), at office (coach, regulator, facilitator, etc) and so on. I can draw the diagram in such a way that those roles dear to me are closer and the circles that take more of my time are larger.

Role landscape (c)
Again a pictorial depiction, again you come in the centre. However, this time, map roles of individuals, mainly those you have a reporting relationship and then those you have a working relationship. Increase the distance based on either the influencing power you have or the frequency of interaction they expect you to have.

The moment you have 75% of the roles of people you interact with regularly mapped on the role set, you are done. Take time to reflect on how much time each of them expects from you and how much time you can actually give them. Talk it out, negotiate and arrive at a calendar if possible. Put a number between 1 and 10 on how much you think you can influence the person playing a role. Decide where you want to go. Have one simple strategy to begin with. Make it work.

Carrying out a role-remapping exercise for yourself every three months helps you remain on top of things. Who ever said matrix organizations are unmanageable?!

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