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Members navigate the matrix at Twin Cities event

Wednesday, May 7, 2014  
Posted by: Barbara Francella
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Nearly 400 NEW members learned to navigate through companies with leaner, flatter organizations at the NEW Twin Cities spring learning event, April 29, 2014 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Bloomington, Minn.

Carman Nemecek, consulting director with The Ken Blanchard Companies, led a panel discussion, "Succeeding in a Matrix Environment,” with Stacia Andersen, senior vice president, home merchandising of Target Corporation; Tom Dixon, vice president, pizza marketing of Schwan’s Consumer Brands Inc.; and

Ann Simonds, senior vice president, Mill City division for General Mills.

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Companies that reorganize from top-down to matrix structures thrive when more attention is paid to human interaction, Nemecek said, advising NEW members to build relationships before they’re needed to make the transition to easier.

Communication skills are extraordinarily important in a matrix workplace, Dixon said. "Establish a regular meeting cadence with your team and make it mandatory to facilitate the best team relationships.”

Departments within matrix organizations should rely on a commonality of purpose to deliver success, Andersen said. The most effective members in a matrix are curious, lifetime learners, who "stay open to the ideas of others.”

"The power of a matrix organization is in our ability to access and rely on functional experts, while leveraging the scale and passion of many to build the business,” Simonds said, adding "Remember to use your matrix skills to reach beyond work to home, personal relationships,children and community.”

While the transition to a matrix organization may not be easy for everyone, "leaders must understand the impact of this change, be empathetic and personal,” Dixon said.

NEW members left the event with practical takeaways.

"Anytime you are working with people not in your primary work group, you are working in a matrix environment,” said Rebecca Anderson, marketing manager, Own Brands portfolio for Cargill Feed & Nutrition. "The great thing about the event is that we were given a simple tool that anyone could use to succeed in a matrix environment.”

Nemecek also offered advice for success in any organizational structure. "Spend 60 percent of time on your current job and 40 percent of time on your next job.”

Companies sending large delegations to the event included 3M, Altria, General Mills Inc., Kraft Foods Group Inc., MOM Brands, Mondelēz International, Schwan’s Consumer Brands Inc. and Target Corporation.

NEW Twin Cities panelists Carman Nemecek of Ken Blanchard Companies,
Stacia Andersen of Target Corporation, Ann Simonds of General Mills and
Tom Dixon of Schwan's Consumer Brands offered insights on how employees
are affected by companies' leaner, flatter organizations.

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