Professional service organisations such as accountants, management consultancies, civil engineers, systems integrators and many others, form temporary teams of people to deliver projects for clients. Those teams last as long as they are needed and disband once the project is completed. This means that within this type of organisation, working patterns, colleagues and lines of reporting are constantly changing – something that can have quite an impact on dyslexics.
Another feature of this type of organisation is the adoption of a “matrix” approach to managing people – where a single individual could effectively be reporting to multiple people at once. For those who have not experienced this type of structure, it is not quite as crazy as it seems. In professional services organisations, for example, a consultant might specialise in helping finance departments to become more effective and therefore have a permanent reporting line to the Head of Finance Consulting. However, they might also focus on an industry sector, say telecoms, so they might also report to the Head of Technology & Telecoms. Add a project overlay on to that, where they have a project manager to report to and Client that ultimately pays the bills, and the the picture becomes clear!
Project working and matrix management are challenging for anyone. However, for dyslexics who need to rapidly understand the impact of their difficulties in this new working environment, agree ways of working to mitigate this with new colleague and implement these rapidly, there are particular challenges.
In large organisations this is exaggerated further, as we are often working with new people who do not know our strengths and weaknesses, our way of thinking, communicating etc and who will tend to make a lot of assumptions based on norms within the organisation. Equally, they will have their own preferences that we do not yet understand and are likely to have very different levels of awareness of dyslexia.
Equally, matrix structures add the complication of multiple masters with whom to agree any reasonable adjustments to be implemented, each of whom need to see the value we bring not just the exceptional treatment that we ask for to accommodate our weaknesses.
Over the next week or so, I will explore this area further but in the meantime, please do let me know if these are challenges you recognise.