Most project team members report to a functional manager who controls their assignments, performance appraisals, raises, bonuses, etc. Until recently, project managers (PMs) had little input into any of these processes. In this paper, learn how a PM working in a functional or matrix organizational structure can get team members to perform.
The question of how a project manager (PM) working in a functional or matrix organizational structure gets team members to perform is asked in almost every project management class I have taught. This is true for both my roles as an independent contractor and as a full-time professional skills instructor for Global Knowledge for the last 15 years.
Almost all organizational internal projects are performed in some form of functional, weak matrix, or balanced matrix organizational structure. This means that project team members report to a functional manager who controls their assignments, performance appraisals, raises, bonuses, etc. Until recently, PMs had little input into any of these processes. Therefore, the question stated in the first paragraph comes up very often.
What PMI® Says
My first suggestion for PMs who find themselves in this situation is to review what the Project Management Institute (PMI) has to say about the authority of a PM. This can be found on pages 283 and 284 in A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) - Fifth Edition. The PMBOK® Guide suggests that PMs use a combination of technical, personal, and connectional skills to interact appropriately with and manage project team members. The three interpersonal skills that PMI writes about are:
1. Leadership (increases respect and esteem), which includes:
• Social influence - PMs have the ability to affect project team members' emotions, opinions, and behavior. PMs can use social influence in many ways, such as conformity, socialization, peer pressure, obedience, and persuasion to influence project team members to perform.
• Building a vision - PMs must be able to see end results. PMs can't give direction on the project journey without knowing the specific destination
• Setting a direction - PMs can articulate simply and clearly where the team is going-and provide guidance on how to get there.
• Inspiring - PMs need to make things happen. Inspiring can take several forms, such as making people want to do things, filling people with the urge to do things, and giving ideas about doing something.
• Coaching/Motivating - PMs can coach/motivate others. They can provide training/development to project team members by supporting them in achieving common project goals. PMs can share experiences, offer advice, give guidance, and share their expertise.
• Aid and support of others - PMs must provide aid and support for project team members in their efforts to achieve common project goals. This sends the message that achievement of the common goals can only be accomplished by a TEAM effort. PMs support project team members, and project team members support PMs.
• Accomplishment of common goals - PMs set goals that are observable and have measurable end results. Goals can have one or more objectives to be achieved within a fixed time frame. This gives project team members a sense of belonging.
• Guides and directs others - PMs will lead the team, in effect guiding others on a journey to an unknown destination. PMs will show and explain what, when, where, and how. PMs provide leadership, direction, and advice.