If you have a hierarchical structure it can make it difficult for the people at the bottom of that structure to feel engaged, it can also make it difficult for communication across the organisation.
By putting the people who create the wealth at the CORE of the organisation, and give them the SUPPORT they require. (Usually the people who need to support the core are higher up the management chain and may not see it as their role.)
A solution to this is to create a Matrix Structure
The main advantage of this type of structure is that it allows the members of the team to share any information more freely across boundaries which would otherwise have existed.
Another large advantage is that that individuals can be chosen to suit the requirements of a project and the team will be more dynamic and able to approach certain problems in different ways. There will be a named business/project manager who is responsible for completing tasks, so staff will know whom they are responsible to, and the business/project manager will be aware of the specific deadlines and budget constraints of the project.
Some disadvantages of matrix management styles include a conflict over the allocation of resources between line managers and project managers. If a team has too much independence then the projects may be more difficult to manage than if they were more closely monitored. There may be an increase in cost if more managers are required to manage project teams. People may also need to learn new skills and quickly address certain issues including managing others and themselves.
The matrix management structure is now largely viewed as the preferred form of organisation and the general feeling is that the structure can enable more effective use of resources, including the human resource, as well as making the company a more comfortable and fulfilling place to work. Teams may only exist for the duration of the project and then be moved on to work in different teams depending upon the skills the individuals possess. This could be classed as an advantage as staff will be putting their skills to use in the areas they most excel at.
The advantages of a matrix include:
- Individuals can be chosen according to the needs of the project.
- The use of a project team that is dynamic and able to view problems in a different way as specialists have been brought together in a new environment.
- Project managers are directly responsible for completing the project within a specific deadline and budget.
Whilst the disadvantages include:
- A conflict of loyalty between line managers and project managers over the allocation of resources.
- Projects can be difficult to monitor if teams have a lot of independence.
- Costs can be increased if more managers (i.e. project managers) are created through the use of project teams.
The way forward
We have had in tremendous success engaging people by using variations of the matrix structure, sometimes its called Cell Manufacturing or Team Based Working. Both are based on the CORE/SUPPORT/BOUNDARY model. It also creates the opportunity to use the tools that probably exist in the organisation e.g. Lean processes etc.