By Gary Turner
A Changing Management Culture
The rise of matrix management is rooted in three workplace trends that have developed over the last few decades. Workforce globalization demands that a manager be able to juggle employees in different time zones and cultures. Customer insistence requires managers to balance taking action and planning while listening to customers, who have more access to the product development process than ever before. And technology fluctuation challenges managers to assess which new tools will contribute to business success.
The Matrix Manager Inventory does not emphasize traditional "Command and Control" (hierarchical) management skills. Rather, it emphasizes a reliance on the "Influence and Collaboration" skills as the most appropriate pathway to both personal and organizational success.
Less of a Tier, More of a Matrix
"Managing today is different than it used to be," says Jim Eicher, co-author of the Matrix Manager Inventory. "Companies that were once organized in top-down tiers have become intricate matrices comprised of multiple touch points, virtual teams, and indirect reporting relationships. It's critically important for managers to learn how to balance the two opposing management paradigms of "Command & Control" and "Influence & Collaboration."
The Skills in Both Orientations
In the past, most organizations followed a Command & Control structure focused on hierarchy and authority to compel behavior and results. Today's successful matrix managers use only the most essential elements of the old competencies as a foundation to build a whole new level of leadership versatility and balance that includes strong decision-making skills and effective interpersonal skills.
What the Matrix Manager Self-Assessment Measures
There are eight competencies on the Matrix Manager Inventory. The first in each pair is the Command & Control competency and the second is the Influence & Collaboration Competency.
Knowledge/Empowerment: Knowledge of content is managing others by knowing more than they do. Empowerment is enabling others to gain their own knowledge and experience so they can act autonomously on the job.
Correctness/Risk Taking: Correctness is managing others without making errors. Fear of mistakes is the driving force of this competency. Risk Taking is managing by encouraging innovation, requiring support or tolerance of uncertainty.
Image/Participation: Image is the need to constantly project a positive persona when working with others. The need to save face is the driving force of this competency. Participation is seeking input and reaching consensus, elevating inclusion of others over the perception of self.
Regulation/Development: Regulation is managing others in order to capture credit for work done. Rescuing others in need is the driving force of this competency. Development is managing by fostering continuous learning and growth in anticipation of others' future success.
Are Some Forced into Traditional Roles?
In a session where project managers took the self assessment in the Matrix Manager Inventory, many
of the participants expressed concerns about being put in the roles of "Command & Control" and found it difficult to work through "Influence & Collaboration." Ninety-five percent of the audience scored above the national average on "Command & Control" whereas only 1 percent scored above the national average in "Influence & Collaboration." See the graph below.
| Command & Control|| Influence & Collaboration|
| ASQ Managers|| 78.9|| 93.5|
| National Norm|| 62.8|| 99.9|
One of the challenges mentioned was the feeling that they were "locked into" various roles of enforcing compliance, setting standards, being the technical expert, and creating spin control. This raised a question: Are they locked into a role because of outside forces or because they haven't developed their skills at influence and collaboration? What about Men vs. Women?
Some men mentioned that they thought it was easier for women to influence and collaborate, while men feel obligated to keep a traditional command and control orientation. About three-fourths of the session agreed. Eight men and 11 women turned in their scores. Below is what I learned:
| Command & Control || Influence & Collaboration|
| 8 ASQ Men|| 76.3|| 91.8|
| 11 ASQ Women|| 80.8|| 94.1|
| National Norm|| 62.8|| 99.9|
The scores indicated that men use both "Command & Control" and "Influence & Collaboration" skills less than women use them. More study needs to be done on this subject to state it as a fact, but this is what I learned that day.