Stacy Phelps

 

TM 665

 

Spring 1999

               A successful manager in a traditional setting will not necessarily be a successful project manager.  The nature of the projects creates a work environment in which project managers are held responsible for guaranteeing the success of the project and are still held to working within the confines the organization.  A project involves a meeting a single definable purpose or objective, that is specified in terms of cost, schedule, and performance requirements.  As organizations get involved in projects sometimes the organizations may hire a new project manager or redirect and existing person to manage the project.  Many times managers of the traditional sense are unable to successfully manage the operation, the progress, and the completion of the project.

               The role of manager in the tradition sense is to integrate resources and tasks to achieve organizational goals.   A traditional manager functions in five areas.  These five areas are what really define the managerÕs role within the corporation.  The five functions are planning, organizing, leadership, control, and assessment.  The assessment is a tool that is used by management in order to initiate change.  These areas are what define the chain of command structure that is typically found in corporations. 

A traditional manager supervises people within their department.  The members of the department have clearly defined roles within their organization and often times these roles will not be changed or altered.  The persons within the department have roles in which they are apart of the structure and team and will want to stay with the department and the organization for as long as possible, if the conditions are correct.

               In a project the structure of the chain of command does not follow that of a traditional organization. Projects within a company are generally short term and have a definite completion date. The vertical chain of command for authority that is used in the traditional business environment can make the time involved in making decisions within the project to time consuming or disruptive.  The project manager will generally have a chain of command that is more of a horizontal hierarchy as opposed to a vertical one.  Since projects tend to move rapidly in order to stay on schedule the vertical hierarchy tends to hinder this process. 

In the course of a project the people within an organization are usually assigned to the project to complete certain phase and once that task is complete the people go back to their departments.  Because of this method of completing the projects, project managers typically will not act as supervisors of people for the duration of the project.  Instead project managers will be more of an organizer of resources, of which, people and man power play a significant role in. The project manager will organize the many people who are entering or exiting the project during different stages.  Although project managers do in fact supervise people or are assigned to the project, the project manager realizes or should realize that their authority is secondary to that of the workerÕs immediate or hired supervisor.  Working under these conditions, as a manager will I think is one distinct area that most traditional managers are not able to succeed under.

               Managers of the traditional sense would have major problems in working with this type of environment.  The corporate environment for managers is very structured. Managers typically will not have to supervise in these types of conditions, where the department and/or companyÕs goals or the immediate tasks that are assigned are not the priority of each member of the department or project in this case.  Throughout the course of a project, managers have to deal with the reality that the immediate success of the project, however valuable it may be for the company, are not the priority goals of the departments or the people from the departments that are assigned to work with the project.  The manager of the project has to find ways in which to deal with these conditions and to move the project completion time along successfully and according to the project schedule.  The project guidelines, budgets, and the completion time must all be met dispite the difficult conditions.  The project manager must have the motivation and commitment and the charisma to organize a dynamic work team into successfully completing the project.  Project managers have to be very motivating in the presentation of the project to the rotating employees that are assigned to the project. 

A manager in the traditional sense does not necessarily have to motivate employees.  Very successful managers can motive department members, but other factors play a role in the decision making of employees while working. Factors such as job security, the need to be promoted, the monetary rewards of their primary job duties (i.e. bonuses) and the overall success of the company play vital role in the decision for employees to work.  It can also be noted that employees who are dedicated to their department and consistent team members will do the extra tasks and perform the extra duties necessary in order to help the company or department succeed.  This can occur in spite of a manager.  In a project the change of employees and the views surrounding projects donÕt encourage this type of performance.

               The structure and the view of projects are that they are in fact short term and have a clear and definite ending point.  Although the project length might extend for a period of years, the schedule and the goals of the project are always working towards an end or a phase down of work. The goals of companies in industry are the very opposite in practice to those of a project.  Unlike a project a companyÕs mentality is to extend the life of the company for as long as possible.  As the life of a company continues the goals are turned towards expansion and growth rather than phasing down and reducing.  Once again the managers of projects, in order to be successful prepare, plan and work towards an end.  The managers in a traditional sense are often times working towards increasing the number of people that they supervise and towards adding more responsibilities in the form of more work assigned. These two accomplishments are viewed as a measure of success for traditional managers.

                Expectations for goals, objectives, and the outcomes of projects are exactly the opposite to those views of successful departments of those of corporations.  A project mangerÕs view of success of their projects and the perception of managers in the traditional are in direct contradiction.  This difference in view point is what will distinguish a successful project manager and will hinder a successful manager in the traditional sense from achieving great success as a project manager.