“What does your job consist of exactly? What are your responsibilities as a leader?”
These are questions I have asked many managers at different levels – team leaders, heads of department, directors – at leadership training sessions over the last ten years.
Listening to their answers I find that there is still a huge focus on “budgeting”, “assigning tasks”, “organising”, “controlling”, and “evaluating” – in other words on the management of tasks. Usually the more senior a supervisor is, the more confidently he manages his tasks.
But when it comes to topics such as motivation, inspiration or empowerment this confidence usually evaporates. “I am the only one who comes with ideas. How can I make the others more proactive?” “How can I make them care more?” “How can I motivate them?” managers complain. Read More
One boss, two bosses, three bosses
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?