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Matrix management and project working offer particular challenges for dyslexics

Matrix management and dyslexia

Matrix management and dyslexia

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.

3 Comments

  1. Rob Rob
    5 March 2013    

    I used to work for a large energy company doing Information Technology, at one time we had a ‘resource pool’ for the development projects. This meant that we were working in project teams that were put together from the pool and then disbanded when the project had delivered. Before this we worked in traditional line management structures and I worked for a manager who I built up a relationship with and confided in him about being dyslexic. He got to know my strengths and weaknesses. In the resource pool the constant change in task managers meant I was not so well understood and supported, which was not good for me or for my employer.

  2. Claudette Claudette
    8 March 2013    

    As a dyslexic person I find working in a matrix type work structure shows up my weakness because of the multi tasking aspect of reporting to many people. So what I tend to do is to try and find out how best to use my strengths by totally understanding the working structure holistically and then understanding what is the minimum adjustments I require. As i don’t think I am asking for “exceptional treatment” I think differently and that should be a plus because bringing difference to a project can make for a dynamic creative and workable solutions. I always try to look for solutions by understand the whole system and principle objective ie: what so we want to achieve in the project

  3. marscatt marscatt
    20 May 2013    

    I work for a global company and to my suprise for such a large company they don’t have any Idea what dyslexic means. I have 2 direct managers and multiple department heads to address on a daily basis. I don’t mind the matrix type structure as it helps me to isolate the main directives for each department. No one cuts me any slack because of the dyslexic issues but they look at me as kind of a loose cannon. I may WOW them or be way out in left feild. I am a female working in management with 90% of my coworkers being men, which has it own set of issues.
    I struggle with the fact that I am heavely “right brained” and give presentations to work groups weekly. I cannot present in a linniar, statistical fashion so my delivery is shockingly different from my counter parts. If I use a picture I can talk detail and indepth but if I put up the stats I can’t remember a thing. Plus I can’t remember words and have to rely on the group I’m presenting to to help me when they excape my brain. I also struggle in work groups because I can’t comprehend the shift from topic to topic and person to person. I sit back sometimes and just take notes then review at the end of the day and try to pull it together. I come off rather aloof because I just decide what I’m going to do. I try to get it from my brain to my mouth but it often becomes a jarbled mess and people either ignore me or because I can’t relay a clear message they want to “tell” me what I will and won’t do. It can be very frustrating. I just pray that the WOW factor lights up in time. I would enjoy reading your comments.

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