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Improving Collaboration When Your Employees Work on Multiple Teams

  • Businesses sometimes use a matrix model where employees report to multiple managers
  • The approach can improve collaboration and creativity, but also raises the possibility of cognitive overload and burnout
  • How businesses can improve the matrix model so they realize the benefits and minimize the disadvantages

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

In an effort to improve collaboration among different teams, companies sometimes establish a matrix model where employees report to multiple managers. This approach can result in benefits such as improved agility, creativity, and resource sharing.

However, a matrix model can also have downsides such as tying up workers in multiple meetings, clogging their workload with internal communications, and overall burnout. Remote work has added to the challenges, including greater difficulty in communication and collaboration and the greater likelihood that workers may be excluded from conversations.

Gallup recently looked at the issue of “matrix madness” and how businesses can address it.

  • Key challenges include cognitive overload due to multiple demands from different leaders, the ambiguity of an employee’s role on a certain team or conflict between roles, and difficulties in coordination between teams
  • Options for improving a matrix model include a “relaunch” of the team to update priorities, responsibilities, and other critical factors; establishing clear leaders as points of contact for projects; ensuring good collaboration and communication between leaders; and looking for inefficiencies such as overly large teams or meetings
  • Companies can also assess whether the matrix model is right for them or whether a simpler approach is preferable

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