Special Problems

There are always special problems that influence the organizational staffing process. For example, the department shown in Figure 4-16 has a departmental matrix. All activities stay within the department. Project X and project Y are managed by line employees who have been temporarily assigned to the projects, whereas project Z is headed by supervisor B. The department's activities involve high-technology engineering as well as R&D.

The biggest problem facing the department managers is that of training their new employees. The training process requires nine to twelve months. The employees become familiar with the functioning of all three sections, and only after training is an employee assigned to one of the sections. Line managers claim that

Figure 4-16. The training problem.

they do not have sufficient time to supervise training. As a result, the department manager in the example found staff person C to be the most competent person to supervise training. A special department training project was set up, as shown in Figure 4-16.

At the end of six months, all new employees were up for their first performance evaluation. The staff person signed the evaluation forms. Within forty-eight hours, the personnel department began screaming that only managers could sign evaluation forms, and since the staff person was not a manager, personnel could not accept the evaluations. There were now four options available to the department manager:

• Request that the personnel department be disbanded.

• Request personnel to change their procedures.

• Speed up training and, before six months were up, assign the employees to one of the sections.

• Continue as before, but with the department manager to sign the evaluation forms after staff person C filled them out.

The first two choices were found to be impossible, and the third was impractical. The company is now using the fourth approach.

Figure 4-17 shows a utility company that has three full-time project managers controlling three projects, all of which cut across the central division.

Unfortunately, the three full-time project managers cannot get sufficient resources from the central division because the line managers are also acting as divisional project managers and saving the best resources for their own projects, regardless of the priority.

The obvious solution to the problem is that the central division line managers not be permitted to wear two hats. Instead, one full-time project manager can be added to the left division to manage all three central division projects. It is usually best for all project managers to report to the same division for priority setting and conflict resolution.

Line managers have a tendency to feel demoted when they are suddenly told that they can no longer wear two hats. For example, Mr. Adams is a department manager with thirty years of experience in a 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 regarded as an expert in his field. The company decided to incorporate formal project management and established a project man-

Figure 4-17. Utility service organization.

agement department. Mr. Bell, a thirty-year-old employee with three years of experience with the company, was assigned as the project manager. In order to staff his project, Bell asked Adams for Mr. Cane (Bell's friend) to be assigned to the project as the functional representative. Cane has been with the company for two years. Adams agreed to the request and informed Cane 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 busy with paperwork as a result of the 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 everyone that the only person with the necessary expertise was Adams. Without his support, the time duration of the project could be expected to double.

The real problem here was that Adams wanted to feel important and needed, and was hoping that the project manager would come to him asking for his assistance. The project manager correctly analyzed the situation but refused to ask for the line manager's help. Instead, the project manager asked an executive to step in and force the line manager to help. The line manager gave his help, but with great reluctance. Today, the line manager provides poor support to the projects that come across his line organization.

Was this article helpful?

0 0
Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment