Project Engineer Biting Off More Than He Can Chew

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5-1 A project manager finds that he does not have direct reward power over salaries, bonuses, work assignments, or project funding for members of the project team with whom he interfaces. Does this mean that he is totally deficient in reward power? Explain your answer.

Program Manager

Functional Manager


The program manager is responsible for overall program direction, control, and coordination; and is the principal contact with the program management of the customer.

To achieve the program objectives, the program manager utilizes the services of the functional organizations in accordance with the prescribed division policies and procedures affecting the functional organizations.

He establishes program and technical policy as defined by management policy.

The program manager is responsible for the progress being made as well as the effectiveness of the total program.

Integrates research, development, production, procurement, quality assurance, product support, test, and financial and contractual aspects. Approves detailed performance specifications, pertinent physical characteristics, and functional design criteria to meet the program's development or operational requirements.

Ensures preparation of, and approves, overall plan, budgets, and work statements essential to the integration of system elements.

Directs the preparation and maintenance of a time, cost, and performance schedule to ensure the orderly progress of the program.

The functional organization managers are responsible for supporting the program manager in the performance of the contract(s) and in accordance with the terms of the contract(s) and are accountable to their cognizant managers for the total performance.

The functional support organizations perform all work within their functional areas for all programs within the cost, schedule, quality, and specifications established by contract for the program so as to assist the program manager in achieving the program objectives.

The functional support organization management seeks out or initiates innovations, methods, improvements, or other means that will enable that function to better schedule commitments, reduce cost, improve quality, or otherwise render exemplary performance as approved by the program manager.

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Program Manager

Functional Manager


Coordinates and approves subcontract work statement, schedules, contract type, and price for major "buy" items.

Coordinates and approves vendor evaluation and source selections in conjunction with procurement representative to the program team. Program decision authority rests with the program manager for all matters relating to his assigned program, consistent with division policy and the responsibilities assigned by the general manager.

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5-2 For each of the remarks made below, what types of interpersonal influences could exist?

a. ''I've had good working relations with department X. They like me and I like them. I can usually push through anything ahead of schedule."

b. A research scientist was temporarily promoted to project management for an advanced state-of-the-art effort. He was overheard making the following remark to a team member: "I know it's contrary to department policy, but the test must be conducted according to these criteria or else the results will be meaningless."

5-3 Do you agree or disagree that scientists and engineers are likely to be more creative if they feel that they have sufficient freedom in their work? Can this condition backfire?

5-4 Should the amount of risk and uncertainty in the project have a direct bearing on how much authority is granted to a project manager?

5-5 Some projects are directed by project managers who have only monitoring authority. These individuals are referred to as influence project managers. What kind of projects would be under their control? What organizational structure might be best for this?

5-6 As a project nears termination, the project manager may find that the functional people are more interested in finding a new role for themselves than in giving their best to the current situation. How does this relate to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, and what should the project manager do?

5-7 Richard M. Hodgetts ("Leadership Techniques in the Project Organization," Academy of Management Journal, June 1968, pp. 211-219) conducted a survey on aerospace, chemical, construction, and state government workers as to whether they would rate the following leadership techniques as very important, important, or not important:

• Negotiation

• Personality and/or persuasive ability

• Competence

• Reciprocal favors

How do you think each industry answered the questionnaires?

5-8 Robert D. Doering ("An Approach Toward Improving the Creative Output of Scientific Task Teams," IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, February 1973, pp. 29-31, © 1973 IEEE) commented that:

The team leader's role is crucial. He is directly involved and must know the individual team members well, not only in terms of their technical capabilities but also in terms of how they function when addressing a problem as part of a group. The technical competence of a potential team member can usually be determined from information about previous assignments, but it is not so easy to predict and control the individual's interaction within and with a new group, since it is related to the psychological and social behavior of each of the other members of the group as a whole. What the leader needs is a tool to measure and characterize the individual members so that he can predict their interactions and structure his task team accordingly.

Is such a test possible for people working in a project environment? Are there any project organizational forms that would be conducive for such testing?

5-9 Project managers consider authority and funding as being very important in gaining support. Functional personnel, however, prefer friendship and work assignments. How can these two outlooks be related to the theories of Maslow and McGregor?

5-10 Lloyd A. Rogers ("Guidelines for Project Management Teams," Industrial Engineering, December 1974, p. 12. Published and copyright 1974 by the Institute of Industrial Engineers, 25 Technology Park, Norcross, GA 30092) has commented that:

The technical planners, whether they are engineers or systems analysts, must be experts at designing the system, but seldom do they recognize the need to "put on another hat" when system design specifications are completed and design the project control or implementation plan. If this it not done, setting a project completion target date or a set of management checkpoint milestones is done by guesswork at best. Management will set the checkpoint milestones, and the technical planners will hope they can meet the schedule.

How can this planning problem be effectively resolved on a continuing basis?

5-11 What kind of working relationships would result if the project manager had more reward power than the functional managers?

5-12 For each of the following remarks, state the possible situation and accompanying assumptions that you would make.

a. "A good project manager should manage by focusing on keeping people happy."

b. "A good project manager must be willing to manage tension."

c. "The responsibility for the success or failure rests with upper-level management. This is their baby."

d. Remarks by functional employee: "What if I fail on this project? What can he (the project manager) do to me?"

5-13 Can each of the following situations lead to failure?

a. Lack of expert power b. Lack of referent power c. Lack of reward and punishment power d. Not having sufficient authority

5-14 One of your people comes into your office and states that he has a technical problem and would like your assistance by making a phone call.

a. Is this managing or doing?

b. Does your answer depend on who must be called? (That is, is it possible that authority relationships may have to be considered?)

5-15 On the LRC, can we structure the responsibility column to primary and secondary responsibilities?

5-16 Discuss the meaning of each of the two poems listed below:

We shall have to evolve Problem solvers galore Since each problem they solve Creates ten problems more. Author unknown

Jack and Jill went up the hill

To fetch a pail of water Jack fell down and broke his crown And Jill came tumbling after.

Jack could have avoided this awful lump

By seeking alternative choices Like installing some pipe and a great big pump And handing Jill the invoices.18

5-17 What is the correct way for a project manager to invite line managers to attend team meetings?

5-18 Can a project manager sit and wait for things to happen, or should he cause things to happen?

5-19 The company has just hired a fifty-four-year-old senior engineer who holds two masters degrees in engineering disciplines. The engineer is quite competent and has worked well as a loner for the past twenty years. This same engineer has just been assigned to the R&D phase of your project. You, as project manager or project engineer, must make sure that this engineer works as a team member with other functional employees, not as a loner. How do you propose to accomplish this? If the individual persist in wanting to be a loner, should you fire him?

5-20 Suppose the linear responsibility chart is constructed with the actual names of the people involved, rather than just their titles. Should this chart be given to the customer?

5-21 How should a functional manager handle a situation where the project manager:

a. Continually cries wolf concerning some aspect of the project when, in fact, the problem either does not exist or is not as severe as the project manager makes it out to be?

b. Refuses to give up certain resources that are no longer needed on the project?

5-22 How do you handle a project manager or project engineer who continually tries to "bite off more than he can chew?" If he were effective at doing this, at least temporarily, would your answer change?

18 Stacer Holcomb, OSD (SA), as quoted in The C/ENewsletter, publication of the cost effectiveness section of the Operations Research Society of America, Vol. 2, No. 1, January 1967.

5-23 A functional manager says that he has fifteen people assigned to work on your project next week (according to the project plan and schedule). Unfortunately, you have just learned that the prototype is not available and that these fifteen people will have nothing to do. Now what? Who is at fault?

5-24 Manpower requirements indicate that a specific functional pool will increase sharply from eight to seventeen people over the next two weeks and then drop back to eight people. Should you question this?

5-25 Below are several sources from which legal authority can be derived. State whether each source provides the project manager with sufficient authority from which he can effectively manage the project.

a. The project or organizational charter b. The project manager's position in the organization c. The job description and specifications for project managers d. Policy documents e. The project manager's "executive" rank f. Dollar value of the contract g. Control of funds

5-26 Is this managing or doing?19

managing doing

_ _ 1. Making a call with one of your people to assist him in solving a technical problem.

_ _ 2. Signing a check to approve a routine expenditure.

_ _ 3. Conducting the initial screening interview of a job applicant.

_ _ 4. Giving one of your experienced people your solution to a new problem without first asking for his recommendation.

5. Giving your solution to a recurring problem that one of your new people has just asked you about.

_ _ 6. Conducting a meeting to explain to your people a new procedure.

7. Phoning a department to request help in solving a problem that one of your people is trying to solve.

8. Filling out a form to give one of your people a pay increase.

9. Explaining to one of your people why he is receiving a merit pay increase.

10. Deciding whether to add a position.

19 From Raymond O. Leon, Manage More by Doing Less (New York: McGraw-Hill), p. 4. Copyright © 1971 by McGraw-Hill, Inc., New York. Used with permission of McGraw-Hill Book Company.

11. Asking one of your people what he thinks about an idea you have that will affect your people.

12. Transferring a desirable assignment from employee A to employee B because employee A did not devote the necessary effort.

13. Reviewing regular written reports to determine your people's progress toward their objectives.

14. Giving a regular progress report by phone to your supervisor.

15. Giving a tour to an important visitor from outside of your organization.

16. Drafting an improved layout of facilities.

17. Discussing with your key people the extent to which they should use staff services during the next year.

18. Deciding what your expense-budget request will be for your area of responsibility.

19. Attending a professional or industrial meeting to learn detailed technical developments.

20. Giving a talk on your work activities to a local community group.

5-27 Below are three broad statements describing the functions of management. For each statement, are we referring to upper-level management, project management, or functional management?

a. Acquire the best available assets and try to improve them.

b. Provide a good working environment for all personnel.

c. Make sure that all resources are applied effectively and efficiently such that all constraints are met, if possible.

5-28 Decide whether you agree or disagree that, in the management of people, the project manager:

• Must convert mistakes into learning experiences.

• Acts as the lubricant that eases the friction (i.e., conflicts) between the functioning parts.

5-29 Functional employees are supposed to be the experts. A functional employee makes a statement that the project manager does not believe is completely true or accurate. Should the project manager support the team member? If so, for how long? Does your answer depend on who the remarks are being addressed to, such as upper-level management or the customer? At what point should a project manager stop supporting his team members?

5-30 Below are four statements: two statements describe a function, and two others describe a purpose. Which statements refer to project management and which refer to functional management?

• Reduce or eliminate uncertainty

• Minimize and assess risk

• Create the environment (using transformations)

• Perform decision making in the transformed environment

5-31 Manager A is a department manager with thirty years of experience in the company. For the last several years, he has worn two hats and acted as both project manager and functional manager on a variety of projects. He is an expert in his field. The company has decided to incorporate formal project management and has established a project management department. Manager B, a thirty-year-old employee with three years of experience with the company, has been assigned as project manager. In order to staff his project, manager B has requested from manager A that manager C (a personal friend of manager B) be assigned to the project as the functional representative. Manager C is twenty-six years old and has been with the company for two years. Manager A agrees to the request and informs manager C of his new assignment, closing with the remarks, "This project is yours all the way. I don't want to have anything to do with it. I'll be too busy with paperwork as the result of our new organizational structure. Just send me a memo once in a while telling me what's happening."

During the project kickoff meeting it became obvious to both manager B and manager C that the only person with the necessary expertise was manager A. Without the support of manager A, the time duration for project completion could be expected to double.

This situation is ideal for role playing. Put yourself in the place of managers A, B, and C and discuss the reasons for your actions. How can this problem be overcome? How do you get manager A to support the project? Who should inform upper-level management of this situation? When should upper-level management be informed? Would any of your answers change if manager B and manager C were not close friends?

5-32 Is it possible for a product manager to have the same degree of tunnel vision that a project manager has? If so, under what circumstances?

5-33 Your company has a policy that employees can participate in an educational tuition reimbursement program, provided that the degree obtained will benefit the company and that the employee's immediate support gives his permission. As a project manager, you authorize George, your assistant project manager who reports directly to you, to take courses leading to an MBA degree.

Midway through your project, you find that overtime is required on Monday and Wednesday evenings, the same two evenings that George has classes. George cannot change the evenings that his classes are offered. You try without success to reschedule the overtime to early mornings or other evenings. According to company policy, the project office must supervise all overtime. Since the project office consists of only you and George, you must perform the overtime if George does not. How should you handle this situation? Would your answer change if you thought that George might leave the company after receiving his degree?

5-34 Establishing good interface relationships between the project manager and functional manager can take a great deal of time, especially during the conversion from a traditional to a project organizational form. Below are five statements that rep resent the different stages in the development of a good interface relationship. Place these statements in the proper order and discuss the meaning of each one.

a. The project manager and functional manager meet face-to-face and try to work out the problem.

b. Both the project and functional managers deny that any problems exist between them.

c. The project and functional managers begin formally and informally to anticipate the problems that can occur.

d. Both managers readily admit responsibility for several of the problems.

e. Each manager blames the other for the problem.

5-35 John is a functional support manager with fourteen highly competent individuals beneath him. John's main concern is performance. He has a tendency to leave scheduling and cost problems up to the project managers. During the past two months, John has intermittently received phone calls and casual visits from upper-level management and senior executives asking him about his department's costs and schedules on a variety of projects. Although he can answer almost all of the performance questions, he has experienced great difficulty in responding to time and cost questions. John is a little apprehensive that if this situation continues, it may affect his evaluation and merit pay increase. What are John's alternatives?

5-36 Projects have a way of providing a "chance for glory" for many individuals. Unfortunately, they quite often give the not-so-creative individual an opportunity to demonstrate his incompetence. Examples would include the designer who always feels that he has a better way of laying out a blueprint, or the individual who intentionally closes a door when asked to open it, or vice versa. How should a project manager handle this situation? Would your answer change if the individual were quite competent but always did the opposite just to show his individuality? Should these individuals be required to have close supervision? If close supervision is required, should it be the responsibility of the functional manager, the project office, or both?

5-37 Are there situations in which a project manager can wait for long-term changes instead of an immediate response to actions?

5-38 Is it possible for functional employees to have performed a job so long or so often that they no longer listen to the instructions given by the project or functional managers?

5-39 On Tuesday morning, the customer's project manager calls the subcontractor's project manager and asks him a question. On Tuesday afternoon, the customer's project engineer calls the contractor's project engineer and asks him the same question. How do you account for this? Could this be "planned" by the customer?

5-40 Below are eight common methods that project and functional employees can use to provide communications:

a. Counseling sessions

e. Project office memo

b. Telephone conversation

f. Project office directive

c. Individual conversation

g. Project team meeting

d. Formal letter

h. Formal report

For each of the following actions, select one and only one means of communication from the above list that you would utilize in accomplishing the action:

1. Defining the project organizational structure to functional managers

2. Defining the project organizational structure to team members

3. Defining the project organizational structure to executives

4. Explaining to a functional manager the reasons for conflict between his employee and your assistant project managers

5. Requesting overtime because of schedule slippages

6. Reporting an employee's violation of company policy

7. Reporting an employee's violation of project policy

8. Trying to solve a functional employee's grievance

9. Trying to solve a project office team member's grievance

10. Directing employees to increase production

11. Directing employees to perform work in a manner that violates company policy

12. Explaining the new indirect project evaluation system to project team members

13. Asking for downstream functional commitment of resources

14. Reporting daily status to executives or the customer

15. Reporting weekly status to executives or the customer

16. Reporting monthly or quarterly status to executives or the customer

17. Explaining the reason for the cost overrun

18. Establishing project planning guidelines

19. Requesting a vice president to attend your team meeting

20. Informing functional managers of project status

21. Informing functional team members of project status

22. Asking a functional manager to perform work not originally budgeted for

23. Explaining customer grievances to your people

24. Informing employees of the results of customer interchange meetings

25. Requesting that a functional employee be removed from your project because of incompetence

5-41 Last month, Larry completed an assignment as chief project engineering on project X. It was a pleasing assignment. Larry, and all of the other project personnel, were continually kept informed (by the project manager) concerning all project activities. Larry is now working for a new project manager who tells his staff only what they have to know in order to get their job done. What can Larry do about this situation? Can this be a good situation?

5-42 Phase I of a program has just been completed successfully. The customer, however, was displeased because he always had to wait three weeks to a month after all tests were complete before data were supplied by the contractor.

For Phase II of the program, the customer is requiring that advanced quality control procedures be adhered to. This permits the customer's quality control people to observe all testing and obtain all of the raw data at the same time the contractor does. Is there anything wrong with this arrangement?

5-43 You are a subcontractor to company Z, who in turn is the prime contractor to company Q. Before any design review or technical interchange meeting, company Z requires that they review all material to be presented both in-house and with company Q prior to the meeting. Why would a situation such as this occur? Is it beneficial?

5-44 Referring to Problem 5-43, during contract negotiations between company Q and company Z, you, as project manager for the subcontractor, are sitting in your office when the phone rings. It is company Q requesting information to support its negotiation position. Should you provide the information?

5-45 How does a project manager find out if the project team members from the functional departments have the authority to make decisions?

5-46 One of your functional people has been assigned to perform a certain test and document the results. For two weeks you "hound" this individual only to find out that he is continually procrastinating on work in another program. You later find out from one of his co-workers that he hates to write. What should you do?

5-47 During a crisis, you find that all of the functional managers as well as the team members are writing letters and memos to you, whereas previously everything was verbal. How do you account for this?

5-48 Below are several problems that commonly occur in project organizations. State, if possible, the effect that each problem could have on communications and time management:

a. People tend to resist exploration of new ideas b. People tend to mistrust each other in temporary management situations.

c. People tend to protect themselves.

d. Functional people tend to look at day-to-day activities rather than long-range efforts.

e. Both functional and project personnel often look for individual rather than group recognition.

f. People tend to create win-or-lose positions.

5-49 How can executives obtain loyalty and commitments from horizontal and vertical personnel in a project organizational structure?

5-50 What is meant by polarization of communications? What are the most common causes?

5-51 Many project managers contend that project team meetings are flooded with agenda items, many of which may be irrelevant. How do you account for this?

5-52 Paul O. Gaddis ("The Project Manager," Harvard Business Review, May-June 1959, p. 90, copyright © 1959 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved) has stated that:

In learning to manage a group of professional employees, the usual boss-subordinate relationship must be modified. Of special importance, the how—the details or methods of work performance by a professional employee—should be established by the employee. It follows that he must be given the facts necessary to permit him to develop a rational understanding of the why of tasks assigned to him.

How would you relate this information to the employee?

5-53 The customer has asked to have a customer representative office set up in the same building as the project office. As project manager, you put the customer's office at the opposite end of the building from where you are, and on a different floor. The customer states that he wants his office next to yours. Should this be permitted, and, if so, under what conditions?

5-54 During an interchange meeting from the customer, one of the functional personnel makes a presentation stating that he personally disagrees with the company's solution to the particular problem under discussion and that the company is "all wet" in its approach. How do you, as a project manager, handle this situation?

5-55 Do you agree or disagree with the statement that documenting results "forces" people to learn?

5-56 Should a project manager encourage the flow of problems to him? If yes, should he be selective in which ones to resolve?

5-57 Is it possible for a project manager to hold too few project review meetings?

5-58 If all projects are different, should there exist a uniform company policies and procedures manual?

5-59 Of the ten items below, which are considered as part of directing and which are controlling?

a. Supervising b. Communicating c. Delegating d. Evaluating e. Measuring f. Motivating g. Coordinating h. Staffing i. Counseling j. Correcting

5-60 Which of the following items is not considered to be one of the seven Ms of management?

a. Manpower b. Money c. Machines d. Methods e. Materials f. Minutes g. Mission

5-61 Match the following leadership styles (source unknown):

1. Management by inaction

2. Management by detail

3. Management by invisibility a. Has an executive who manages with flair, wisdom, and vision. He listens to his

4. Management by consensus

5. Management by manipulation

6. Management by rejection

7. Management by survival

8. Management by depotism

9. Management by creativity

10. Management by leadership people, prods them, and leads them.

b. Grows out of fear and anxiety.

c. Can be fair or unfair, effective or ineffective, legitimate or illegitimate. Some people are manipulators of others for power. People are not puppets.

d. Is the roughly negative style. Executive always has ideas; devil's advocate. Well-prepared proponents can win—so such a boss can be stimulating.

e. Has an executive who needs every conceivable fact; is methodical and orderly; often is timid, inappropriate, or late.

f. Is good as long as it is based on reality. The executive has a trained instinct.

g. Has an executive who will do anything to survive—the jungle fighter. If it is done constructively, the executive will build instead of destroy.

h. Is totalitarian. There are no clashes of ideas. The organization moves. Creative people flee. Employees always know who is boss.

i. Has an executive who is not around, has good subordinates, and works in an office, offstage.

j. Can be important in dealing with the unknown (R&D projects). Subordinates are independent and powerful. This style could be a substitute for decision making. It is important for setting policy.

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