Team Building and Development in a Matrix Environment

Just what is a team?

You can find lots of kinds of teams. Project teams are matrix in nature, staffed by members so that you can achieve the project goal, taken from diverse functional teams. When the Project Manager features a high degree of authority this can be called a strong matrix, this can be called a weak matrix when Functional Managers have stronger authority.

In all organizational structures, you’ll find many ‘teams within teams’. Like, if I ‘m the Manager, I might have several teams within my team that is overall:

– Me and each individual within my management team.

– Me and all my management team.

– Each management team individual as well as their direct reports.

This is complicated in the event the structure is a well-defined hierarchy that is functional. However, for completing projects a matrix environment adds in a different layer of complexity. The functional ‘teams within teams’ exist and every person features a functional ‘home’ team, but now they belong to a ‘project’ team which has a finite life span.

Every one of those teams need in case a project is to be successful, nurturing. Allegiance to the project isn’t created by the structure itself, but alternatively as a direct result the relationships which are developed inside the project team. Relationships in most teams are important for success, but particularly weak matrix teams, on matrix teams, where the project manager may have little authority, they’re important. On such teams, relationships are fragile, are difficult to establish, and certainly will be destroyed. Keeping together a diverse group of people depends on trust and building loyalty.

Phases of Team Development

Bruce Tuckman developed the theory a team went forming, storming, norming and performing. The phases may be summarized as follows:

Managers need to be available to provide guidance as the team continues to grow, and start to be participative.

– Performing – the team performing and is maturing. Work is accomplished, team members know the best way to work together, and it’s managed and navigated with skill and may enhance productivity, even though conflict takes place. The team certainly will make its own decisions and requires little supervision now.

– Forming – the team comes together, starts to understand initiates the tasks, the goals and boundaries, but every individual continues to be working. Managers need to be directive only at that stage so that you can steer the team toward the goal.

– Storming – ideas and approaches start to be exchanged about the way in which the work may be accomplished, which could result in conflict. This phase is critical for results in individuals, and the growth of the team learning ways to work together. Managers need to be directive only at that phase, and accessible to ensure the team is starting to move toward the goal as well as that conflict is resolved.

Tuckman added a final phase ‘adjourning’ to acknowledge after the objectives of the project are complete, that teams, in particular project teams break up.

Team Building Techniques

Team building isn’t just about creating ‘fun’ events, although that’s part of it. Although that’s part of it, it’s not just about understanding team members through personality assessments. The most effective team building involves combining many different techniques and tools.

– Clear Task Assignment – Assigning work that’s achievable, relevant and challenging for the individual is important in most types of teams. In newly formed matrix project teams it’s important to make this clear, as it’s in functional teams as clarity isn’t provided by the structure itself.

This may be in the shape of a simple thank you, certificates, bonuses, gift cards, etc.

– Weekly status meetings

– Project dashboards

– Project status reports

– Kick off meetings – a new project ought to be initiated using a kick off meeting so your purpose of the project, roles and responsibilities and by what method the project fits to the overall goals of the organization might be understood. This technique may be used in most types of teams, but in a matrix project team which has come from multiple different sources together with staff it’s important as the team has no established context for the project.

– Team agreements – Teams that know the best way to work are more likely to be efficient and effective. Establishing ground rules will provide the team and can ease communication over problems for example team member behavior, responsibilities, and boundaries. Functional teams have this established via the use of procedures and departmental policies.

– Delivery process definition – Understanding the way the work is to be accomplished makes it more easy to get a team. Functional teams have for delivering the work, the process. Given the nature of every project might be different, matrix project teams don’t have for delivering the work, initial stated rules.

– Conflict management- A skillful Manager will understand that conflict can afford the initiative to set up an obvious process and happens on any team. This provides clarity to the team in case conflict does occur. A matrix that is newly created project team will see this especially helpful as the team isn’t used to working and can need to navigate this. This may help the team move through the ‘storming’ phase of group development.

– Personality assessments – An effective strategy is through team building sessions. For matrix project teams, personality assessments can help shorten the process where the team learns to work together to get the results and matures.

– Team building events – Group events encourage positive team dynamics mature and to come up with. In matrix environments, the development of trust and loyalty is critical to effectiveness and the stability of the matrix structure. Engaging people in activities outside the project is effective in building team esprit de corps and allows them to really get to understand each other. Some options are:

– Team building ‘games’ – creating or building something not in the project may engender a camaraderie that will be carried back to the day that is working.

– Executive Coaching – Individual and group coaching might be an effective tool in most types of organizational structures. Executive Coaches can facilitate team development, as well as individual leadership development, by addressing personal or group blind spots, focusing on areas including collaboration skills, negotiation skills, and improving communication.

– Regular status updates – There really are many different ways that status communicated and might be gathered. This could be more clear on their role for the reason that structure and is a natural activity in a functional team, as members are used to an established status. For newly formed project teams that are matrix it’s important that team members believe they certainly will see their progress affects the overall progress toward the goal, and belong to the team. Examples:

The techniques described may be used in almost any type of organizational structure, but are important for building productivity and loyalty . In a functional environment virtue of the structure itself creates a level of allegiance, as there’s only one focus to get the loyalty of a team member. In a matrix environment a team member might be more loyal to their home team as opposed to project team and has multiple loyalties. Moreover, projects have deadlines that are aggressive and therefore it’s critical that project teams become effective, efficient, and productive as quickly as possible.

The techniques can be mapped to the phases of Tuckerman, as described below.


– Personality assessments

– Goal Definition


– Delivery process definition

– Executive Coaching

– Goal Reinforcement

– Clear task assignment

– Regular Status Updates


– Goal Reinforcement

– Executive Coaching

– Team building events

– Clear task assignment

– Regular Status Updates


– Recognition and Rewards

– Regular Status Updates



– Plan project celebration/ event that is social


In summary, team structures ordered functionally organizations that are structured, are complex. The matrixed organizations of today make that complexity greater. Matrix project team members have multiple loyalties and these divided loyalties may be harmful to the success of the project in the event the team isn’t cohesive. There’s various team building techniques that may be undertaken to help make teams in environments that are matrixed successful and cohesive. Seasoned and successful managers and leaders will analyze the team, determine which of the phases of Tuckman the team is in, along with the needs of individuals, to ensure effective team building techniques may be employed.

Building team at sweden

She uses her experience and background combined to help people reach their personal and professional potential.



2 years ago

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