I lead several people who are matrixed into my product teams.  I am not their line-manager, so I don't have the big boss sign above me that comes with the power to fire.

I am about ready to start one-on-ones with them and even have the e-mail ready to send.

Generally, my team members are agreeable to the tasks I assign them, but we negotiate when there are differences of opinion.  I am concerned that they may push back about meeting weekly "just to talk".  I can explain to them again (after the e-mail) the virtues of one-on-ones and that I think we should do them because they'll help us be more effective in our work.  But, I can't order them to do one-on-ones since I'm not the boss.

Before sending the e-mail, should I try to get buy-in from their line-managers so I'll have support from the boss?  Or, is that playing an end-around my team members that might erode trust between us?  If their boss resists as well, do I just have to let it drop and not do one-on-ones?

I'd appreciate any advice on ensuring I can get the one-on-ones to happen even though I don't have the power to order them.



Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

It's really kind of funny when some boss says, "I don't want you meeting with my guys weekly on the project they're working on with you."  It just seems...lame.  Yes, yes, there is the "we have too many meetings" bit...but if they say that at some point, just say, "actually, this is the one meeting that cuts down on OTHER meetings."

But anyway.  ;-)

No, you don't have to ask their bosses in advance.  I find that most matrix project team individual contributors have little interaction with their direct boss on the project details.  They go to other meetings for the project, and their boss doesn't approve THOSE.

They may push back a bit.  But push back isn't a reason not to do something...particularly something useful and efficient.

MsSunshine's picture

One-on-ones for matrix are critical.  You just leave out the career part (like I think they said for a contractor in the pod-cast).  You are still running a group and need to get to know them, delegate, give feedback, hold them accountable, ...

I spent my first years in management as a matrix manager.  I didn't know to do these at first ... no one did one-on-ones at my company.  I read about this somewhere else (before I did MT) and decided it couldn't hurt to try.  Starting them made a huge difference in a few weeks for me feeling like I had a handle on the projects.  Even though I wasn't their "boss", I still was responsible for the delivery of products.  I needed to delegate tasks, give feedback, etc.  I also didn't know some of them well at all and this was a great face-to-face time.  (Some of the people were very quiet and hard to get to know.)  Some of them baulked at first.  But I always told them that the meeting can be as short as it needs to be to get what we need done.  After awhile I'd ask if they were valuable and what could/should change.  Then I would adjust to that feedback to me.  I never stopped doing them.

jbdoggett's picture


Thanks for the support.  I've sent the e-mail. The ball is rolling.