How to Make Your Matrix Organization Really Work | MIT Sloan Management Review

Leadership & Culture

A matrixed structure—where teams report to multiple leaders or where there is dual or multiple managerial accountability and responsibility—is used in many organizations. But for a matrix structure to be effective, several factors must be considered. This article provides four elements of a matrix structure that must be in balance. The four components include: 1) where people report in the organization (e.g., straight line or dotted line), 2) what roles and incentives they have (e.g., clarity on decision-making, performance metrics, and rewards, 3) how rules and processes govern the organization (e.g., operating principles and best practices that provide established norms), and 4) who becomes a leader (e.g., mindsets and skills to thrive in a collaborative, dynamic structure). For example, regarding where people report, many organizations setting up a matrix reporting structure often designate a straight-line and dotted-line reporting relationships—which can unintentionally set up a hierarchy in the matrix. The authors recommend starting with two straight reporting lines. Concerning mindsets, leaders must make four mindset shifts—one of which is to use influence rather than authority as the primary way to get things done. Other ideas are discussed on the skills that are essential to thrive in a matrix organization.