Previously, before 1970, most large corporations were structured in departments. These departments were logical partitions of the company and any given groups of employees reported to the head of the department. After this point, companies began to restructure its employees into a matrix organization, mainly with the intent of developing project managing units.

There are a lot of different styles of matrix organizations. In each, the end goal is to create harmony between all the needs of the manager, but the means to reach that end are different. The three main kinds of matrix structures are the weak matrix, the strong matrix, and the balanced matrix. In this article, the advantages and disadvantages of the weak matrix structure type will be examined.

Weak Matrix Organization Structure

When a project manager is assigned to oversee a group that is organized in this manner, it can be a complicated task. The project manager has to facilitate all aspects of the project. They actively plan and assess the project’s progress, but don’t really have any sway when it comes to the employees. Therefore they must rely on the tools available to the actual managers to really control the workers.

Employees in this organization are not attached to temporary management staff, or to temporary projects, because it is another manager entirely who is responsible for promotions. These “functional managers” and the work they assign becomes the primary goal of employees, and any other projects and managers take a back seat. This means that the project manager has to combat strong apathy from his workers in order to be successful.

What’s worse, since the project manager has no actual authority on the project, the only thing truly in his power in the case of a failing project is to report the negative results to a functional manager. The project manager hopes that the functional manager will straighten out and refocus the employees on the project, but this doesn’t always happen.

However, don’t forget, functional managers must aspire to the responsibility for overseeing work performance in his/her functional area. So that the workers engaged in the current project’s tasks don’t decrease the productivity of the functional unit as a whole. A result this significantly occurs between functional managers, project managers, and individual workers.

When this happens, the unfortunate loser is typically the project manager. In this kind of matrix organization, the project manager is usually a weak figure that holds little sway over his crew.