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Communicating in a matrixed organization

Communicating Effectively in a Matrixed Organization

| Laurie Brown | ,

Being able to communicate effectively is essential in any organization. It is even more so in a matrixed organization.

Matrix organizations are organizations in which individuals report to multiple superiors or have dual reporting relationships. This means that an employee may have a primary manager or supervisor for their functional role or area of expertise. Still, they may also work on projects or initiatives that involve reporting to another manager or leader within the organization.

In a matrixed organization, there may be multiple reporting lines, and decision-making authority is shared across functional and project-based lines. This type of organizational structure allows flexibility and collaboration, as individuals can work on multiple projects or teams and draw on the expertise of different functional areas within the organization. However, it can also lead to conflicts of interest and misunderstandings if communication and decision-making processes are not clearly defined.

In a matrixed organization, there may be several communication issues that can arise. These include:

  1. Multiple reporting lines: In a matrixed organization, employees may have multiple reporting lines, which can lead to confusion about whom to communicate with and who is responsible for decision-making.
  2. Miscommunication: With multiple reporting lines, it may be more challenging to ensure that all relevant parties receive the same information and that there is no miscommunication between team members.
  3. Lack of clarity: In a matrixed organization, defining roles and responsibilities may be more challenging, which can lead to confusion about who is responsible for what tasks.
  4. Conflicting priorities: In a matrixed organization, employees may have different preferences depending on which department they report to, which can lead to conflicts and communication breakdowns.
  5. Limited resources: In a matrixed organization, resources may be shared across different departments, leading to conflicts over resource allocation and communication breakdowns.
  6. Cultural differences: In a matrixed organization, employees may come from different cultural backgrounds and may have different communication styles (We use DiSC to help with this), which can lead to misunderstandings and communication breakdowns.
  7. Distance: In a matrixed organization, employees may be located in different parts of the world, making communication more challenging and leading to misunderstandings and breakdowns.
  8. Time differences: In a matrixed organization, employees may be located in different time zones, making communication more challenging and leading to misunderstandings and breakdowns.


Effective communication is crucial for success in any organization, and it is essential in a matrixed organization where individuals may have multiple reporting relationships and work on multiple projects or teams. Here are some tips for how to best communicate in a matrixed organization:

  1. Establish clear roles and responsibilities: It is crucial to define the roles and responsibilities of each individual in the organization, as well as the specific goals and objectives of each project or team. This will help ensure that everyone knows what is expected of them and can better understand how their work fits the larger organizational goals.
  2. Use clear and concise communication: Matrixed organizations often involve a lot of cross-functional communication, which can be complex. To ensure everyone is on the same page, it is essential to use clear and concise language and provide specific, actionable instructions.
  3. Use a variety of communication channels: Different people prefer different communication channels, so it is vital to use a variety of methods to ensure that everyone is able to stay informed and up-to-date. This might include email, phone calls, video conferences, and in-person meetings.
  4. Foster an open and collaborative culture: An open and collaborative culture is key to successful communication in a matrixed organization. Encourage team members to share ideas, ask questions, and provide constructive feedback.
  5. Use technology to your advantage: Technology can help facilitate communication in a matrixed organization by providing a platform for team members to collaborate, share documents, and communicate in real time. Use tools like project management software and online collaboration platforms to streamline communication and keep everyone informed.

By following these tips, you can ensure that communication is effective and efficient in your matrixed organization, leading to better results and increased productivity.

Learn more about effective communication here.