Influencing and succeeding across a Matrix


Barry Byrne - Director, HR Recruitment

Image of different coloured strings entwined

With over 50% of global corporate structures aligned to a matrix model, it is vital that HR generalists and specialists develop the right skills and attributes to succeed and influence across the model. In an increasingly agile and virtual corporate landscape, demonstrating the ability to understand, navigate and influence across a matrix structure is critical for many organisations.

So, whether you are a seasoned HR Business Partner with extensive matrix experience, or a Talent Management specialist transitioning into a matrix model for the first time, it is important to evaluate how effectively you are operating across the structure, or to plan and prepare how you will transition into the organisation and make a strong impact.

The main objective of a matrix organisation is to secure a higher degree of coordination and collaboration than is possible from conventional organisation structures. A highly innovative performance management tool making an impact in a specific function and geography could, in theory, be deployed across several others. The potential rewards of the structure from an HR perspective are significant, as the model seeks to optimise the utilisation of resources and offers operational freedom and flexibility.

With less structure, and in many cases more ambiguity, matrix structures can be hugely challenging to navigate and influence across. Projects typically involve blurred reporting lines and structures, conflicting priorities across a diverse range of functions and geographies where rules can become unclear. To counterbalance this, strong technical knowledge should underpin all activity across the matrix. It is worth pausing and reflecting on some of the following essential skills as you drive projects across the model and make a real impact.

Managing conflict:
Don’t fear conflict – embrace it! And by addressing issues directly with cross functional colleagues and project managers, day-to-day lines of communication will be improved with less ambiguity around goals and objectives.

Influencing others:
With blurred reporting lines, it is critical to be persuasive without authority across a matrix. Underpinning the ability to influence should be a healthy degree of empathy, as cross functional colleagues have a range of different business priorities and challenges.

Leverage technology:
The ability to communicate, report and analyse across a multi digital ecosystem is critical in a matrix. Further developing your tech profile and capability can make a significant difference to clear lines of communication and evaluating project progress.    

Learn from others:
Cross functional collaboration is central to the success of matrix projects and strategic activity. It is therefore critical to listen deeply to cross functional colleagues, understand their challenges and priorities and become interconnected on organisational goals.

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