Among various organization structures, the matrix structure provides an expanded organizational approach. It is different from traditional leadership, where you only report to top management. It enables a flow of accurate information horizontally and vertically. Employees in a matrix structure organization report to the functional manager and project manager/leader.
It connects the managers directly to the employees of each department. However, the matrix structure prolongs decision-making, and the managerial roles are not clear. Sometimes, there could be disagreements between managers leading to a disturbed environment.
Let’s tell you all the disadvantages of the matrix structure.
Lack of Role Clarity
Having a complex organizational structure can lead to leadership confusion within the company. The team members may not be clear about the power of each leader in decision-making. New members of a project or team may not understand the nature of reporting to each manager. The power dynamics depend on the type of matrix structure in the company. Yet, the managers still might not be satisfied and want the other’s final take.
The lack of role clarity is also present among the team members. Employees from different departments working together as a team may not be sure of their role in the project. They might perform the same duties as their departmental roles. Though, the project roles are often varied compared to the departmental role. It is important to inform the workers about their contribution to the project.
Conflict Between Managers
Each hierarchy in an organization works according to its priorities and goals. As the project and functional managers have different long-term goals, they work accordingly. Let’s say the production department manager is concerned about the overall weekly production. On the other hand, the project manager might focus more on particular products essential for the project.
This difference in goals and opinions can lead to disagreement, confusing the employees. The employees may also feel free to do whatever they want in such situations. The situation of conflict between managers can be highly harmful to the company. The lack of role clarity also sometimes makes it difficult to consider the final decision.
Slow Decision Making
Slowed-down decision-making is quite a prominent disadvantage of a matrix structure. The process is automatically slowed when you have to wait for the final call from both managers. One of the good aspects of this organization is that the team members from each department are in direct contact with the managers. Yet it is also a major con. When the managers get updates about each step, they want to change their way. This tug-of-war between them delays the process and is accompanied by multiple changes.
As mentioned above, reporting to two managers means working according to two instructions. One of the managers might be satisfied with the task, while the other might require changes. It can lead to overload caused by double roles and frequent modifications.
Employees May Act as Managers
This might sound unrealistic, but it is quite common in companies where everyone does not report to one manager. The division of power and conflicts among managers might empower the employees to take over job roles. Some employees might start acting as managers or other team members. They dictate tasks and distribute roles regarding the project. It may also be a plan by some of the employees to take over the job duty.
Unsuitable for the Long Term
The matrix structure is a flexible organizational structure. It is a good choice in ensuring the performance of the employees and efficient working. The matrix structure is suitable for short-term projects. But, it is not a preferable option for short-term projects.
The matrix system is a costly organizational structure for the company. It requires two competent and more experienced managers to oversee the process adequately. This structure requires more resources to ensure smooth working. Matrix structure requires you to hire more employees if needed for the projects. The company might also have to keep some employees who are not needed at the moment. They could be of use in other projects. Thus, adding to the overall cost.
Chance of Failure
If your employees are not used to working in a complex hierarchy, the matrix system might not be the best choice. It can fail despite spending more resources if not managed properly. The confusion between the employees regarding job roles can lead to some of them acting as managers. The functional and project managers may feel left out and not find the structure satisfactory. It can also lead to the loss of clients when the managers and employees within the team disagree.
The matrix system is a modern organizational structure. It comes with a few advantages. However, the disadvantages of the matrix system cannot be ignored either. Sometimes it does not clarify roles within the team, leading to discontentment. The employees might try to walk over each other to show their better performance. Disagreements between managers can also cause issues within the team. Moreover, this system is costly, unsuitable for the long term, and might not be a success in every organization.
Matthew is a Co-Founder at BusinessFinanceArticles.org. Matthew was a floor manager at a local restaurant in Wales. He lost his job after the pandemic and took initiative to make a team and start the project.