Dear Bob ...
Our IT organization has been growing and for the first time is using matrix management for some large projects. The team leader does not have any administrative control over the team members; they report to a different leader or are consultants.
[ Also on InfoWorld: Bob offers more tips on managing employee reviews in "Making sense of a feedback-free performance review" | Get sage IT career advice from Bob Lewis' Advice Line newsletter. ]
I can see that the leader is struggling with a lack of control over some of the team members, and the team members are having a hard time reporting to someone other than their administrative leader.
I'm sure this is a common scenario, just a challenge since it is new to us. Any ideas to help introduce everyone to matrix management?
Dear Projected ...
The last guy who asked me about matrix management was trying to get Keanu Reeves to emote (not really, but just how snappy a lead do you think is possible when the subject is matrix management?). What you're asking is, comparatively speaking, easy.
I usually recommend a three-way conversation at the end of the project or project phase that includes the project manager, administrative manager, and employee, the subject of which is the employee's performance. The two keys to success:
- The conversation can't be a one-dimensional how good or how bad. It has to be a discussion of where the employee excelled, where he (or she) succeeded, where he pulled his weight but not much more, and where he needs to develop in order to avoid being a hindrance to the next project.
- Everyone involved in the conversation has to be mature enough to handle the subject matter without it sliding from a discussion of professional skills and performance to an inference of character.
The occurrence of this conversation should be set as an expectation at the beginning of a project, so participants understand how their performance on the project will turn into an accurate assessment of their performance on their annual appraisal.
The conversation should probably happen as often as employees receive formal performance feedback. If your company encourages managers to provide performance feedback once a quarter, for example, then these conversations should be scheduled as part of that process.