“Our sales team is not doing well. The markets have shrunk and we haven’t reached our targets in the last 6 months. We need to find new ways. We need new skills. We need some sort of sales development,” complains the Head of Sales
“No problem,” says HR. “We could organise some sales training.”
Sounds easy, doesn’t it? But it’s not so easy in real life.
One of the reasons many people struggle in matrix organisations is having multiple supervisors.
“It is difficult,” one senior employee comments. “My local boss sets the priorities, I start working, then at the 10 am morning meeting my regional boss from Germany has an idea and he needs me to come up with a first draft by tomorrow. I can’t clone myself, can I? Everybody seems to assume that I have my full working day to complete the task THEY set.”
The assertive-organised-good networking-quick learning matrix superhero
It is never easy to work in a matrix organisation. An employee needs many skills in place to cope with the demands of a matrix organisation. When I asked HR managers about this, they drew up with a long list of skills they consider when it comes to recruitment or development. Employees in a matrix are expected to be flexible, assertive and well organised. They must have good networking skills; they need to be proactive, but they must also quickly learn to say no… A good matrix worker needs to have many skills to succeed. Sometimes it almost seems that in order to cope with a matrix, one needs to be a superhero. And sure enough, companies invest a lot of their resources to improve their employees’ in those skills needed to cope with multiple supervisors. They send them to superhero training courses, they assign mentors to them until they become fully equipped to handle conflicting instructions well…
But how about looking at the situation from the bosses’ point of view?
“We have been trying to fill this senior position for over half a year with no success.” This is a common complaint of many senior HR professionals and managers. The higher the position is, the more difficult it becomes to find the right candidate for the job. So they keep searching on the job market, but often they forget to look around within the company itself.
“If I have a vacancy to fill, I’ll promote someone into it, then fill that newly vacated post from below, and so on,” said a HR manager, “until, finally, there is left a vacancy further down the organisation which is easy to fill from outside. So when there is a vacancy, we typically fill it from inside the company, and create a chain reaction of people moving upwards. This is all planned as much as possible. We know where to look for a replacement when a vacancy arises, so it is easy to prepare to move the system. As many as three promotions can be effected in a single round. It is great from the motivational point of view – you can communicate it, for example, we express our congratulations in a newsletter to those who have been promoted. This gives motivation and provides perspective to those who work here.”
So what are the key elements in starting a career chain reaction? Read More
Pickled onions are difficult to make. You are mixing two very different ingredients – vinegar and sugar. Sweet and sour. It is difficult to get the ratio right.
It is the same with assertive communication: it is difficult to tell how much to emphasize your own needs and interests and how much to consider the other’s needs and interests to make the balance right.
No wonder people often get it wrong and go from one extreme to another. This funny video illustrates exactly that.
The big day is tomorrow. You are going to give a presentation and a lot depends on its success. With less than 24 hours left, you haven’t got much time to prepare. But, believe me, you still have the time to use these 5 tools to make your presentation snappier, more fascinating, more compact – a presentation that has an impact. Read More
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