Shortly after I got hired here this company moved to a Matrix organization. The way it was described to us here sounded more like a Functional organizational structure … but let’s just go with their terminology for now. This meant that we were shifting from being project oriented, where you worked for your project … and if your project ended or was cancelled you had to find work on another project or be laid off (at the same time as another project might be hiring people). The Matrix organization would make it so that would never happen since you’re viewed as a resource, and instead of being project specific, you’re resource specific. This is how it was sold to us, the reality is similar if a bit convoluted.
I’m a mechanical engineer, so I’m in the mechanical engineering pool. If a project dries up I’m reallocated to another project by my functional manager. This functional manager signs my timecard and fills out my yearly reviews … but never works with me directly. Mine isn’t even in the same building as me … so he’s legally saying that I’ve put in the hours I put in without having seen or talked to me in weeks if not months.
As a “Lead Mechanical Engineer”, on the project side of things I had a Project Engineer (PE) who was my manager on the project side of things. I also have a Program Manager who is … also? my manager on the project side? Sort of? Like, he’s the guy who talks to the customer and handles the … so he’s kind of above the PE but on the program side. (Don’t ask me what the difference is between the Program and the Project … I’m not really sure.) Above the Project Engineers is the Program Engineering Manager. He somehow works with the Program Manager …
Again. I’m not really sure how this all works.
So there I am, minding my own business, I’m working on two different projects … A and B let’s call them … I’m the mechanical lead for both … I attend meetings, and I mark up drawings to give to designers and drafters … and I wait for them to do the work, and attend meetings … and wander around talking to people, fending off forward advances on the enemy front (Configurations Management) or flanking attempts made by Logistics. And then periodically I’m asked by my functional manager to ask my two project engineers and program manager to send him emails reviewing the work I’m doing.
Two years ago I was brought onto Project A since they laid off the previous Lead … I’m working under Project Engineer 1, after a year passes and we successfully complete that project, layoffs are happening regularly and she chooses to leave to have her baby. They take like 6 months to replace her with Project Engineer 2. In that time, work has continued and I have also been put on Project B under Project Engineer 3.
Project Engineer 1 left to be a mother, Project Engineer 2 showed up 6 months later and then eventually left to another job and wasn’t replaced, Project Engineer 3 left for another job and I’ve basically replaced him. In doing so my “project” side manager became the Program Engineering Manager … who was laid off last week. I don’t know who’s above him and nobody knows who is going to replace him …
So I’ve lost some 4 managers over the last year, and only one was replaced (after a good long time had passed).
How do you like that for a managerial game of musical chairs?
I will be drawing on Peter’s Evil Overlord Top 100 (http://www.eviloverlord.com/lists/overlord.html) moving forward to help explain situations at work:
Today’s is item #58:
If it becomes necessary to escape, I will never stop to pose dramatically and toss off a one-liner.