How to Survive Matrix Teaming

Step 1.

Which one are you? UNDERSTAND YOUR PERSONALITY TYPE – While most people are used to a linear organizational chart, matrix teams are quite a bit different and also challenge certain personality types.

Certain personality types flourish in an environment filled with ambiguity as it promotes creativity and free flowing collaboration. Other personality types don’t do well in these groups as they are structured thinkers and are good at developing boundaries and putting form to the formless.

Step 2.

FOR STRUCTURED THINKERS – If you are one of the more structured thinkers, it helps to identify who in the group has the most influence and has the attention of the person requesting the output of the team. It also helps to develop key requirements and identify who in the team best can deliver those requirements. In short, facilitate the group to organize itself and provide a framework for how the work should be structured to deliver the output (product) of the team. This facilitation isn’t constraint, but rather a method of delivering accountability and insuring success.

Step 3.

FOR LESS STRUCTURED THINKERS – If you fall in this category, recognize that there is a goal to the project and that there will be a deadline or two. Also recognize that nobody is trying to stifle creativity when they set boundaries or ask for deliverables. Seek to find the balance between your creativity and need for a framework.

Step 4.

It is a compromise of styles. Free thinking personalities bristle at control. Structured thinkers are riled by ambiguity. Allowing both styles requires a balance of both. When accountability becomes an issue, influence is the best way to resolve it. Open and honest feedback also encourages accountability as it highlights competency and commitment.

Surviving a matrix team requires compromise. Structured thinkers must accept the need for a free flow of information. Less structured thinkers must accept some boundaries to facilitate success. Both types must accept each other as valued team members. Matrix teaming can be successful when people work to their strengths and accept a compromise of styles.

Find this and other great management articles at “Ask a Manager” found at