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4 Apr

secret of the successfully functioning


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The Project/Functional Interface
The secret of the successfully functioning matrix not only lies in the balance of power [between project manager and departments], but also in the type of interface [relationships] between the project and individual functional managers. Every project decision and action must be negotiated across this interface. This interface is a natural conflict situation since many of the goals and objectives of project and functional management are different. Depending on the personality and dedication of the respective managers, this interface relationship can be one of smooth-working cooperation or bitter conflict. A domineering personality or power play is not the answer. The overpowering manager may win the local skirmish, but sooner or later he will alienate everyone working on the project. [alienate = feel not belonging]
Cooperation and negotiation are the keys to successful decision making across the project/functional interface. Arbitrary and one-sided decisions by either the project or functional manager can only lead to or intensify the potential for conflict. Unfortunately for the project manager, he can accomplish little by himself, and must depend on the cooperation and support of the functional managers. That old definition of successful management — “one who gets things done by working through others” — is essential for successful project management in the matrix organization.
The project manager in a matrix organization has two very important interfaces — with top management and with functional management. A good working relationship with and ready access to top management is essential for resolving big problems and removing obstacles. A good working relationship with functional management will ensure that most problems are resolved at their level and will not have to go to top management. The conventional matrix model does not adequately emphasize these most important relationships.
Obviously, neither the project manager nor the functional managers can sit in their offices and give orders. The various managers must be communicating with each other on at least a daily basis, and usually more often. Consultation, cooperation, and constant support are particularly necessary on the part of the project and functional managers. These are very important relationships, keys to the success of any matrix organization, and must be carefully nurtured and actively promoted by top management and by both project and functional management.
The difficulties that occur at the project/functional interface are emphasized if the salient differences between the role of the project manager and the traditional functional manager are analyzed. Such an analysis has been made by Cleland and indicated that “while these differences are possibly more theoretical than actual, differences do exist, and they affect the manager’s modus operandi [operational approach] and philosophy.” Both project and functional management must work to achieve [operational] harmony in spite of these conflicting objectives and roles. The matrix organization actually is a method of deliberately utilizing conflict to get a better job done. The project team must be more concerned with solving the problem rather than with who solves it. Teamwork and problem solving must be emphasized rather than role definition.
Q. How can project manager promote team-work and discourage individualism?

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