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Conflicts and Power Clashes between Functional Managers and Project Managers
In corporations whose structure is not very project oriented (eg. functional, weak matrix, ...), conflicts and power clashes between functional managers and project managers may happen a lot, even with the support of sponsors, and FM being responsible for people and PM for project.

What are your lessons learned from previous experiences? What episodes were the most helpful?
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Dear João
Interesting your question
Thanks for sharing

"Quando o mar bate na rocha..."

I think the best way is:
1. Identify functional managers who may affect or be impacted by the project
2. "Sell" the project idea to all these functional managers
(important: involve the project sponsor in this process)
3. Always keep functional managers informed of project implementation (using the most appropriate means to inform them)

It is very important for functional managers to support the project
...
1 reply by Joao Sarmento
Jan 10, 2020 9:43 AM
Joao Sarmento
...
Hi Luis,

Thanks for your feedback.

From my past experience and from sharing experiences with friends and colleagues working in corporations with such organizational structures, I verify that these conflicts are mostly regarding priorities, over-allocations and commitments due to nature of these organizations structures. And yes, in most cases, "quem se lixa é mexilhão"....

I agree and follow the steps you presented, which I believe engage most functional managers and avoid unnecessary risks to the project.
Having the proper processes to ensure delivery of the technical submittals and approvals by the functional manager on time and no abuse to the power.

Job tasks to be well defined by the PM and FM at the beginning of the projects.

Some of the problems I used to see in this type of projects.

- Technical Requirements from the FM is not clear at the beginning of the project which might cause delay.

- Communication between FM and team members without coordination with PM.
...
1 reply by Joao Sarmento
Jan 10, 2020 9:59 AM
Joao Sarmento
...
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Riad.

I agree with the need of having proper (and well oiled) processes, the focus on documenting the technical requirements and the tasks/responsabilities of each manager to avoid communication that sabotages or ampers both the project and the PM.
In my case, what is usefull for me, is using SPIN Selling or Solution Selling method as a tool for stakeholder management.
...
1 reply by Joao Sarmento
Jan 10, 2020 10:04 AM
Joao Sarmento
...
Hi Sergio,

Did not know of the method and decided to google it a bit.
It resulted in me adding Neal Rackham's "SPIN Selling" book to my "Wish List" list. Thanks for your inputs and nice suggestion!
I agree with Luis.
...
1 reply by Joao Sarmento
Jan 10, 2020 10:05 AM
Joao Sarmento
...
Hi Abolfazi,

I also agree with him. His points are very effective!
Joao -

Business is people.

If you believe that, then you need to build positive relationships with functional managers BEFORE the going gets tough.

I've also found that when working with functional managers on a project for the first time, it helps to establish some working agreements or ground rules similar to what we'd do with a team. That way, there are no surprises...

Kiron
...
1 reply by Joao Sarmento
Jan 10, 2020 10:37 AM
Joao Sarmento
...
Hi Kiron,

Thank you for the pertinent inputs.
Not forgetting business is people, building positive relationships early and establishing ground rules are very relevant and impactful suggestions.
Hey João.

I build relationships with the functional managers and involve them in project decisions if I think it will help build support. It wouldn't hurt to have them in your communication plan, and your human resources management plan.

Happy Friday,
Stéphane
...
1 reply by Joao Sarmento
Jan 10, 2020 10:47 AM
Joao Sarmento
...
Hi Stéphane,

Thanks for sharing your inputs.
Building bridges and involving functional managers seems a good strategy. Agree with the inputs regarding communication and resources as well.
Conflicts and clashes are signs of negative relationships, win-win and collaboration is the targeted outcome, best for the project and the involved parties.

That's why negotiations, conflict management, communications are key skills for a project manager and stakeholder analysis and engagement is so important. Emotional intelligence is required to understand them and influence them.

Some practical steps that worked for me:
- establish a good relationship with managers even before the project starts (eat drink talk)
- invite key managers to steering committees (when their peers help them)
- understand how you can help managers doing their job (e.g. building alliances)
- design the project orgchart so they are involved (and bound)
- involve other managers they are cautious with
...
1 reply by Joao Sarmento
Jan 10, 2020 11:00 AM
Joao Sarmento
...
Hi Thomas,

Thanks for these relevant inputs.
Collaboration and win-win are definitely the target outcome, and PM interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence are a cornerstone for this. Your practical steps are a great addition to the inputs I'm collecting.
Jan 10, 2020 3:52 AM
Replying to Luis Branco
...
Dear João
Interesting your question
Thanks for sharing

"Quando o mar bate na rocha..."

I think the best way is:
1. Identify functional managers who may affect or be impacted by the project
2. "Sell" the project idea to all these functional managers
(important: involve the project sponsor in this process)
3. Always keep functional managers informed of project implementation (using the most appropriate means to inform them)

It is very important for functional managers to support the project
Hi Luis,

Thanks for your feedback.

From my past experience and from sharing experiences with friends and colleagues working in corporations with such organizational structures, I verify that these conflicts are mostly regarding priorities, over-allocations and commitments due to nature of these organizations structures. And yes, in most cases, "quem se lixa é mexilhão"....

I agree and follow the steps you presented, which I believe engage most functional managers and avoid unnecessary risks to the project.
Jan 10, 2020 4:10 AM
Replying to Riad Alhammoud
...
Having the proper processes to ensure delivery of the technical submittals and approvals by the functional manager on time and no abuse to the power.

Job tasks to be well defined by the PM and FM at the beginning of the projects.

Some of the problems I used to see in this type of projects.

- Technical Requirements from the FM is not clear at the beginning of the project which might cause delay.

- Communication between FM and team members without coordination with PM.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Riad.

I agree with the need of having proper (and well oiled) processes, the focus on documenting the technical requirements and the tasks/responsabilities of each manager to avoid communication that sabotages or ampers both the project and the PM.
Jan 10, 2020 4:35 AM
Replying to Sergio Luis Conte
...
In my case, what is usefull for me, is using SPIN Selling or Solution Selling method as a tool for stakeholder management.
Hi Sergio,

Did not know of the method and decided to google it a bit.
It resulted in me adding Neal Rackham's "SPIN Selling" book to my "Wish List" list. Thanks for your inputs and nice suggestion!
...
2 replies by Sergio Luis Conte
Jan 10, 2020 10:48 AM
Sergio Luis Conte
...
You are welcome. Just to comment, SPIN Selling and Solution Selling are basically the same. I am saying that just in case you find into the internet something related to Solution Selling for free.
Jan 10, 2020 10:54 AM
Sergio Luis Conte
...
You are welcome. I am not a seller but because the position I had in a US company I was trained in both methods with the authors of both. Then I find the method very usefull to use in things related to requirements elicitation, stakeholder analysis and mainly into all related to stakeholder management along the project and before and after the project exists/ends. Additional to add two other methods helped me a lot: Power Base Selling and LAMP.
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