Managing projects in a weak matrix organization is not an easy job! Project managers usually have troubles when they get asked to deliver without authority while still being responsible. Most of issues project managers face in a weak matrix organization are people issues especially with functional managers and shared resources, in this post I will share a couple of tips that can help survive in the matrix.
When organizations used to have functional structure that was based on specialty and domain knowledge, team members and functional managers used to be happy with that kind of structure which almost had no uncertainty as team members were clear about their tasks, responsibilities, and single boss reporting. On the other hand, functional managers were happy since they used to have full control on their teams and no one else was there to share the time of their teams.
In order to alleviate the pain of managing projects in a matrix organization, we need to address the root causes of those issues, and put oneself in team member and functional manager’s shoes trying to analyze the thought process that may make them uncooperative.
1. Motivating Team Members
This is one of the biggest issues in a weak matrix organization where functional team members are busy with their day in day out activities and they are not excited to actively participate in projects. I believe the key to this common problem is motivation; the company can work with the PMO and line managers to define team member appraisal criteria that include operational work as well as project activities.
Using this approach will encourage team members to willingly participate in projects and to over-perform as well, team members should be aware that the project manager will play a role in their periodic performance appraisal which will motivate them to impress him with their performance. The project manager should also use his skills to build long term relationship, establish rapport with the team, and continuously develop team members’ skills which will make them excited to work with him on future projects. The project manager should be responsible for not less 25% of the team member’s appraisal, it would mean nothing to the team member if the percentage is less, on the other hand, functional manager also has a role to play in getting team members to be more helpful to the project manager by encouraging their team members to participate in project work and indicate the importance of working on projects that will eventually deliver value to the organization and tag them as winners.
2. Motivating Functional Managers
Projects are initiated to achieve a corporate strategy goal that will often have a positive impact on operations team, it could be automating an over the counter process or re-engineering a process to reduce cost, resources, or time. Functional managers should understand that projects are serving them in the first place, and the organization as a whole.
Early resource estimation is the key to solve this issue, once the project manager has identified required resources, the very next step would be getting commitment from line managers taking into consideration the operational work team members are responsible for. Early communication and proactive commitment are essential in order not to surprise functional managers. The project manager should have good relationship with line managers that is built on trust, respect, and mutual benefits, this relationship can make resource commitment straightforward. Negotiation skills are also essential to get best resources ensuring that a win-win relationship is always maintained with functional managers.
Feel free to leave comments below if you would like to share weak matrix issues and tips to work around those issues.