1. Section Editor(s): Davis, Charlotte BSN, RN, CCRN

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A common new management style that's growing in both popularity and success is the matrix management model-an organizational management framework in which power and decisions are shared between two or more leaders rather than a hierarchical, singular leader. Each leader may be responsible for the same or different tasks and organizational goals, and nurses may report to multiple leadership team members rather than a single leader.

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Many healthcare organizations apply the matrix management model to meet a unit-based project goal, such as implementing a new nursing bundle to reduce surgical site infections. For example, in a dual-reporting system, one nurse is assigned to train unit colleagues on how to correctly perform the interventions and document their clinical skill set. These staff members report to the project nurse, who remains the responsible agent for ongoing training. However, they're still responsible for answering to the management team member if they fail to complete the training or competently perform the required skills.


In an organizational matrix management model, one unit manager may be responsible for developing the work schedules, vacation requests, and training days for all nursing staff. Another unit manager is responsible for investigating patient complaints and maintaining all public relations endeavors for the organization. A third unit manager may be responsible for ordering equipment and supplies, and ensuring that all clinical units have adequate amounts of each to perform their job roles successfully. An executive leader may also be present on these units to ensure that everything runs smoothly. Staff members can go to either the clinical unit manager or the executive team member if they have a question, concern, or need.


This management style facilitates the trust, creativity, and decision making needed to achieve organizational efficiency, profitability, and growth while encouraging interaction and teamwork between leadership and nursing team members. Increased interaction allows the management team to be more aware of barriers, as well as successes. In this environment, nurses are more likely to suggest changes that contribute to efficacy and workplace satisfaction. It can also dramatically reduce the likelihood of an overtly authoritarian leader because major decisions must be jointly made with another management team member.


To effectively embrace this management style, all team members must clearly understand their job roles and management team members' roles and expectations. In addition, each employee needs to be aware of which management team member to approach for a specific need or concern. The management team must have excellent interpersonal communication skills and be able to work proficiently and supportively in a group setting.


The skills required to navigate the matrix management model are vastly different than those needed to succeed in the old, hierarchical model. Organizations can strengthen their matrix management team by selecting a diverse group who complement each other professionally, developing leadership programs for nurses who want to shadow a matrix management team member, rotating leaders through various areas of the organization, and expanding leadership opportunities.


As the sharing of innovative ideas and solutions is facilitated, our healthcare organizations will flourish.