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Line Management in a projects environment

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Within our Engineering and Operations Department we do not possess rigid Heads of Departments. Individuals continually move around from project to project, thus line-management occurs within the project team. The creates a number of issues, the main ones being:
1.General top-bottom communications do not reach all members of staff.
2.Staff tend not to have one permanent individual that they can turn to for non-technical/personnel issues as they regularly move between projects.
3. This can lead to frustration.
Can anyone suggest a strategy that will allow a soft form of line-management to cut across the technical management occuring on projects.

Thank you


Craig Lewis

6 Responses

  1. Managing in a Matrix
    My experience in the pharmaceuticals industry is to have a traditional fnctionally based organisation with the project matrix overlaying this. So there are Heads of a particular skills/functions who are responsible for functional excellence whilst project managers are responsible for project delivery. You also need good project review and performance measurement and rewards and recognition systems.

    Richard Bryce
    richard@thehrpractice.co.uk

  2. Practice Leaders & Line Managers, or Mentoring
    Hi, I share Richard’s view. 1 tier of Practice Leaders/Project Managers (i.e. Technical experts), overlapping with People Managers (i.e. management experts).

    An alternative I have seen work equally well is a mentoring scheme – an organised resource management & development structure, designed to 1) Communicate information upwards & downwards, 2) Challenge organisational self-limiting beliefs, 3) Support & share expertise amongst team members. As ever, happy to discuss offline if this sparks a thought. Conall

  3. Lead, don’t manage!
    Hi Craig,

    I have come from an engineering background and most recently, worked within an international matrix. I also have experience of project management.

    You have already identified the majority of the issues, but in fact, there are some other key areas that will affect individuals, and ultimately the bottom line. I refer to appraisals, personal development, and promotional prospects. Equally important, is maintaining contentment within the workforce.

    It would appear that your company have adopted a hybrid approach to programme management. In international business there are two types of organisations; Functional and Projectorized (the latter being American). The most common type of organisation in Europe, I believe, is Functional. There would normally be a programme manager, who is ultimately responsible for all projects, and dedicated project managers. If the teams are provisioned from within the company, the reporting structure is that of a matrix. In effect, each team member has two bosses (or more). However, the project manager deals with all project related issues, whilst the line manager and/or HR deal with all other issues. Of course, the responsibilities of both managers would overlap in certain areas.

    I believe the main area to address is that of roles and responsibilities. I don’t believe that a ‘soft form of line-management’ is the answer here. Clearly defined roles for project managers, team leaders and team members will ensure the best route to success. It is quite obvious from your comments that a team leader is necessary. This role could be incorporated with that of deputy project manager, but clear definitions of accountabilities and responsibilities is required. I suggest this, as buy in for a new role would be hard to accomplish. I believe that some organisational change is required here.

    I hope this helps. I am always happy to discuss further, should you wish.

    Kind regards,

    Clive

  4. Communications
    linda@lmoreby.fsnet.co.uk
    Hi Craig
    I come from supporting an engineering design centre and we looked at project management from many angles. As a result it does not necessarily matter what your line management structure is if you do not have clear objectives, authority and responsibilities levels and most of all a clear communication strategy. This could be simple paperwork signed and dated or a fully developed work flow system and anything in between. Check out the Prince2 principles at the PRINCE2 principles site http://www.prince2.com/ site or PACE at Gantthead http://www.Gantthead.com for some ideas and other links to assist documentation and workflow.

  5. PRINCE2

    Hi Craig
    I come from supporting an engineering design centre and we looked at project management from many angles. As a result it does not necessarily matter what your line management structure is if you do not have clear objectives, authority and responsibilities levels and most of all a clear communication strategy. This could be simple paperwork signed and dated or a fully developed work flow system and anything in between. Check out the Prince2 principles at the PRINCE2 principles site http://www.prince2.com/ site or PACE at Gantthead http://www.Gantthead.com for some ideas and other links to assist documentation and workflow.

    ****************************************

    I agree, but prince2.com is not the official site.

     

    regards

    mustafa

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