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Working Effectively in a Matrix Organization - Are You The ONE?

Working Effectively in a Matrix Organization - Are You The ONE?

Are you The One?

In most MNCs today, we see heavily matrix working environments. For example, you could be a HR Director supporting the Perfume business based in Malaysia. You report to the Global CHRO functionally and work closely & report to the Malaysia GM too. This is a type of matrix

I've seen colleagues who get easily frustrated working in a matrix environment. And I have also seen colleagues who flourish in such an environment. There are some universal skillsets that one can hone to work effectively in a matrix organization. In this article, I seek to share in 1-2-3 + bonus! 

1. Strengthen Your Influence and Assume Positive Intent

In a matrix environment, you need to influence leaders and colleagues to build consensus around a common purpose and deliver collaborative solutions together. This is not the Army. You can't dictate to your colleagues what they should do by exercising formal authority over them like soldiers. You have to influence them, come down from your ivory tower and share with them the common purpose and the focus on delivering solutions that benefits the enterprise. 

Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo once said, "... assume positive intent and you will be amazed at how your whole approach to a person or problem becomes very different. Your emotional quotient goes up... you don't get defensive. You are trying to understand and listen. Maybe they are saying something to me that I'm not hearing". 

If one is able to combine the ability to influence +  assume positive intent, he/she will be a joy to work with in a matrix environment!

2. Sharpen Your Conflict Management Skills

Disagreements are bound to happen in matrix environments. But that's also the beauty of it because through such diversity, better solutions are generated. You don't want to avoid disagreements by holding back your voice. But clearly - you do want to sharpen your conflict management skills so that you're able to 'agree to disagree'.

Resist the urge to escalate problems to senior management. Matrix teams depend on trust and teamwork. Your ability (or inability) to manage conflict reveals your character as a leader. Appreciate diversity. Here I share some resources & thoughts from Mindtools:- use the Perceptual Positions to see things from the other person's perspective. You can also use the Johari Window technique to disclose information about yourself and build trust. Seek to cultivate trust and teamwork.

3. Empathy & Respect

I earlier shared the Power of Empathy and the difference between Empathy and Sympathy here. This is a one of the most useful area that could help one work effectively in a matrix environment. 

You may not necessarily condone the choices each person makes everytime, butyou do understand. This instinctive ability to understand is empathy. You help people find the right phrases to express their feelings—to themselves as well as to others. Also make sure you treat everyone with respect (the way you would want to be treated by others) and focus on the work.

By showing empathy + respect, you'll understand better, do better and be better together. 

Bonus: Self Awareness

All of the above wouldn't mean a thing if this doesn't exist - Self Awareness:Knowing what to do when you don't know what to do. Begin this journey of self awareness and working effectively in matrix environment by starting to perhaps ask yourself, 'I've been reflecting on how I might have handled that situation differently, I love to get your perspective on how I came across in that meeting, etc.". Get a broad perspective from others and accept feedback as a gift! 

I hope this article has been helpful - to young graduates who are fresh out from school and might be joining a matrix organization or corporate professionals who may be already in the matrix ecosystem. Either way, I hope you found some positive inspirations. Cheers...

This article first appeared on LinkedIn

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