The road to HR Matrix

A discussion in CiteHR to understand how to build a matrix structure in HR.

The matrix structure comes in consideration when an organization has either geographically located centres or too many different business units processing or producing at different levels within the org value chain. The understanding of business processes. The structure of its units is drawn to manage production. Here we take a high level view at the Org structure, Work flow and Centre-based structures. For e.g.: An organization has five processes before the finished product is sent to the client. These five processes are further clubbed in units two make it manageable. The logic behind clubbing the processes can be similar nature of work or shared resources between the processes. The production may need support from quality, project management and business analytics. These functions would form the production support functions.   Hence we have three clear units including Unit A and Unit B from production and the Unit C from Production support.

Now we take a sneak peek at the employees in this structure to understand the work flow and chain of command. The employees would be a part of the org structure accordingly. It would start with Production Executive, who would process the work at the primary level.  This would further get finished by the experts in the team before moving the work to the Unit B. A batch of 12 -15 Production Executive would have a team leader who would report to the Manager. The manager would be responsible for 3-4 team leaders who would be responsible for production executive respectively. This structure would remain the same for every unit.

In an environment where this business is spread over geographical locations, matrix structure would form accordingly. The centre A would have Unit A and a part of the Unit C. The second centre would have Unit B and Unit C. Apart from these centres there would be a Head Quarter, which will have the decision makers from all the functions.  The reporting structure would start with the Production Executive and end with the Organization Head at the Head quarters. Every centre may have a director who can make decision on the spot. This would ensure the decision making is centrally decentralise. It means that the core business decision would be taken by the organizational head at the head quarter. Though day-to-day operational decisions can be made by the centre heads or the directors

Every centre would require HR, Admin and Finance functions. Hence these functions would further form a structure which allows them to operate in synchronization. The org structure for them would start with the HR executive at the primary level, moving on to the HR manager who would be responsible for a team of 6-10 HR executives. The HR manager would report on to the HR Director at the head quarter. The job allocation would be made accordingly. The HR functions would be designed with centralised decision making. The strategic and the statutory functions would be governed centrally, from the Head Quarters. Whereas HR operations, including Recruitment, Induction, Employee life-cycle management would be managed from each centre.  The chain of command would be from the HR director to the HR manager for each function finally to the HR executive.

In the Matrix structure, the reporting for the HR Manager would be on a dotted line to the Centre head or the Director. This is important as the HR functions would be aligned to the business. The decision making would require recommendation from the business leader. The centre head would have a better view to the challenges from the business and its solutions. Hence on a daily basis it would be more imperative for the centre head to make a recommendation for the decision to make the process faster and accurate. These recommendations to decision making might be primarily related to the operational function of HR. The Strategic decision would be made by the HR Director.

Finally the success of a matrix structure depends on focussing on running the business. A pitfall is, one employee may have more than one boss. Hence it may lead to a confusion of prioritising  and a complexity in delivery of tasks. At some situation control-seeking behaviour may lead to duplication of tasks and information sharing. The solution to it is in keeping a flat structure so that the decision making becomes simple. The designing and implementation of Matrix structure is aimed at ultimate goal of an organization which is , as shared by Stephen Covey “ The highest challenge inside organizations is to enable each person to contribute his or her unique talents and passion to accomplish the organization’s purpose.”