Designing Authority Matrix

A discussion in CiteHR

Here we have a situation where a matrix needs to be designed to share the decision making . We understand in an organization there would be different projects managed within the company with support from cross functional teams. There are leadership at different levels, who are either accountable or required to make recommendations .

Definition: Authority matrix is fundamentally an arrangement where the decision making is divided in different levels to empower specialised task.  The division of authority includes different areas such as accountability, responsibility, recommendation and consultation finally information sharing. Accountability is directly associated with the person who delivers the job. Responsibility would be from the person who is responsible for the one who is delivering the job , i.e. the reporting manager. Every job would require certain degree of indirect association , i.e. through consulting where the employee may not be responsible for the end result yet require to recommend. Finally information sharing about a task processed is essential for the employees who might be associated to the process and would be required to respond. For e.g. in a technical firm the engineer would be accountable for developing the product , the Project manager would be responsible for the project completion, the subject matter experts may require to consult finally the senior management needs to be informed about the job completion.

Designing the Matrix Structure : CEO leads the org structure with core decision making capabilities. He would be accountable for making the prime decisions, such as what business charter should be agreed with the client. Strategic decision making would be entirely his purview. The next level of executives including the Directors responsible for operations, would take operational decisions. This would remain an internal activity. The approval to any situation related to operations , including any purchase or hiring would be made by them. Hence they might be the signatories to bills, appointment letters and other internal circulars. The next level leadership including the General Managers and Senior Managers would require recommending and providing consultation to the Directors . Finally the team level leadership including the managers would be informed when an organization wide decision is being taken. Though they would be making decisions on a daily basis, including work allocation, leave approval and etc . In case the dimension of the decision making increases e.g. resignation or any attrition, it would escalate to the next level to the senior managers and directors , with the recommendations from the managers.

Implementation:The implementation of the matrix structure needs to maintain certain areas . The first is the flow of information which holds key to the decision making. Hence needs to be completely aligned. The interest of the employee who may not be clear about making decisions needs to be handled carefully. Often we may find a situation where a senior official who is required to make a decision may need further recommendation. Hence this decision making is shared on dotted lines with the one who recommends. This shift ensures it is managed effectively . Such as , the salary hikes are a result of the bell  curve calculation . But the distribution of the bonus or the annual variable would require recommendations by the Operations Directors and his Managers. They would have a better view of the team of employee who may not be core team, yet gone ahead to contribute to the organization’s success . The HR director can assess the employees on the basis of HR decision making tools, but recommendations about their work needs to come from their reporting leaders.This kind of decision making which are mutually exclusive , ie needs to come from every reporting leader to a collectively exhaustive decision, which is the final word of the director , requires the authority matrix to be implemented. Finally the roll out program for the matrix structure needs to be planned in phases. This would mitigate the knee-jerk effect from sudden burdening of decision making responsibilities.

Conclusion: The aim of the division of authority is to create balance and lessen the time taken in decision making. It should dovetail leaderships without interrupting them. This would provide them with more freedom to concentrate on what is important to them . In the words of author John Winthrop “Liberty is the proper end and object of authority, and cannot subsist without it; and it is liberty to that which is good, just, and honest.”



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