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Working in a Global Matrix Setup

 Working in a Global Matrix Setup


Open world economy and the availability of "Growth Opportunities" outside of their backyards are forcing companies to think "Global" and participate in the "Global Economic Development". Local companies are increasingly being seen as setting up their bases / acquiring companies outside to the home country and contributing in the growth of the country thereby growing in the process.


This definitely is good for the consumers, the company and the economy overall, however this throws multiple complex challenges for HR including that of working in a "Global Matrix Setup"*.


Its challenging to work in the Global Matrix Setup , but the challenges can be minimized or we can even overcome these challenges by focusing on the following:


1. Communicate, Communicate and communicate

Your communication with all your managers is the key, and it just can’t be delegated to anyone else at any-cost. Simple rule is to communicate as much as you can after taking a judicious call on what and how much. For this it is recommended to have a periodic call with the international manager as it acts as connect and update session and it gives both the parties’ time to priorities, take important decisions and clarify expectations. With home country manager it’s slightly easier as you have multiple opportunities to interact simply because of time zone similarity, location proximity and easy of approach.


2. Seek Alignment on Goals

Mutual Agreement or alignment between both/all the managers is the key here, Both the global managers must be involved in finalizing the goals & objectives and setting up the priorities, the assumption that the other manager is aware is just an assumption and it can have a big impact on delivery levels hence its vital to keep both the global managers in loop.


3. Clarify Roles and Responsibilities

The agreed Goals must be broken down into specifics on roles and responsibilities, one of the biggest challenges is the unclear roles and responsibilities of the individuals working in the global matrix setup, again it’s the assumption that other person to be the decision maker / responsible for decision making and delivery. In many cases teams also are not clear how the activities are integrated and interlinked and how output of one is linked to the input of others.


4. Set up Periodic Reviews

This is needed to simply keep all the parties aligned on the changing priorities. In a good number of cases the matrix setup falters because of the absence of review periodically.  With the time zone difference, geographic spread, complex and fast changing uncertain global environment this becomes very important for us to focus on.  


5. Be prepared for “Delayed Decision”

Because of the multiple layers of decision making, decisions tend to get delayed hence it is best to plan for the delays in advance so that it doesn’t impact the timelines.  The decisions are also delayed because of communication and alignment challenges between different stakeholders and global dispersed team. Again communication, advance planning and options need to be kept ready to deal with the uncertainties and delay. This was if we cant eliminate but we can easily make them play in our favor.


6. Adjust well with the “Clan Culture”

"Global Matrix Setup" generally tend to promote clan culture where one clan is favoured by a manager with respect to the other, this is typical of project teams where the different functional leaders lead different functions objectives, the sentiments gets aggravated because of ambiguity in the absence of communication and opportunity for clarifications. Important here is to recognize this and be aware of this, and if we fall to be in such a situation, we must be ready to have an open dialogue to clarify the assumption.

The above may be used as per the context in isolation or as a combination to make the journey easy and memorable.

Happy Journey.


*The Global Matrix setup sometimes may consist of functional and administrative manager at different locations or sometimes even involve a setup where the operations is through project based teams where the local manager is not a function manager but the project head or vice versa, in this article I have tried to be as general as possible and therefor contextualizing is important before interpreting.


The views expressed here are personal of the author and not representative of the organization in any way. 


Profile: Arjun Singh is Vice President & HR Head - Global R&D at Glenmark Pharmaceuticals.


Publsihed with permission.