Why Corporations Must Avoid The Matrix Structure

Why Corporations Must Avoid The Matrix Structure

The society is in the midst of a transition where the traditional one employee/one manager system is becoming obsolete. Instead, it has become commonplace in large businesses  and even some small businesses for one corporate denizen to be subject to numerous managers, each of which will be responsible for different work assignments. This arrangement is also referred to as being the matrix, and although change in business is usually considered a good thing, below are some reasons why this structure should be avoided.

Confusion And Power Struggles

An employee who works within a matrix structure will often find themselves in situations where they must balance the demands of one manager versus those of another. It doesn’t help that in many large corporations the employees will rarely meet the managers in person, which opens the door to confusion and miscommunication. Furthermore, an employee could easily find themselves caught between two managers who are involved in a power struggle, which will make their work life a real nightmare.

Excessive And Unnecessary Stress

Most employees thrive in corporate environments with clarity, where they know exactly what is expected of them on a daily basis. Unfortunately, matrix structures are prone to ambiguity, frequent change and as a consequence employees will constantly be on their toes. Not certain of what needs to be done at a given time or how, employees are prone to anxiety which in turn leads to much higher stress levels.

Decision Are Made Too Slowly

Since matrix structures provide equal weight to multiple corporate dimensions, many believe that the resulting tensions will lead to solutions and problem solving which is more creative. However, it isn’t clear if this is actually the case, but what is known is that it requires more calls, meetings and video conferences where more input is needed to come to a consensus. This means that in any institution that already has insufficient meeting procedures; the ability to make decisions rapidly will become gravely compromised.

What Is The Best Alternative To The Matrix Structure?

The essence of the matrix structure is that it involves interactions which consist mostly of promises or requests rather than responsibilities or tasks which are sharply defined. However, by utilizing process mapping, it will be possible to evaluate various assumptions regarding who does what work, and which roles are needed for each step. Not every process has to be mapped, just the primary ones which extend throughout the organization and are prone to causing lots of confusion.

The goal should not be to phase out matrix structures completely, as this isn’t realistic. Instead, it should be modified through the addition of responsibility charts which are used to determine who is responsible for certain decisions. Someone must also be accountable, and others should have the ability to veto things that adversely impact them.  Consultation will also be necessary, as well as designating who will be informed about a decision once it has been made.