What is the relationship between authority and responsibility in Project Management? When a project manager accepts the post of project manager, they understand that they are accepting accountability for the project. They also understand that a lack of authority might substantially impair their capacity to meet the project’s goals and objectives.
The legal right to issue a command, order, or instruction and compel subordinates to carry it out is known as authority. Responsibility, on the other hand, is the result of authority. It entails the subordinate’s responsibility after his superior has assigned him the task.
Consequences are precisely proportionate to responsibility. If the project they’re managing fails, they won’t be placed on the bench until the next one, but it will cost them money. This article will share some new insights on the relationship between authority and responsibility in Project Management, keep reading.
They will be harmed by the project as a result of bonus removal or reduction, reassignment to a less responsible function (with a corresponding income drop), or dismissal in the case of consultants. In business, the link between accountability and consequences is well-established. Larger, more expensive initiatives will often enlist the services of more senior project managers, with the consequences of failure being proportionate. The link between project outcomes and repercussions will be strengthened.
What I’ve noticed in my 20+ years as a program and project manager is a lack of alignment between power and accountability. Without having access to authority, project managers may undertake a lot of the project planning. For part of the planning work, project managers will require subject matter experts’ assistance, even if it’s merely to confirm effort or expense estimates. Larger, more sophisticated projects require more subject matter specialists, to the point where these experts design some of the work. The power to obtain and administer the resources required for this job is frequently included in the territory.
Relationship between authority and responsibility in Project management
The project manager will require authority when the project enters the construction or implementation phase. They can plan, coordinate, and oversee work, but without authority, they are restricted in their capacity to guarantee that work is completed on time and to the required quality.
Project managers that occupy senior positions in their businesses and bring that degree of power to their projects lead the largest, most expensive, and most difficult projects. This sort of project and project manager may be seen in the Manhattan project, which delivered the Atomic bomb during World War II. Leslie Groves, the project manager, was a three-star (lieutenant) general. The great majority of initiatives that aren’t large enough to be classified as Manhattan projects are where the link between power and accountability breaks down.
The majority of projects are currently being carried out in a “matrix” framework, in which project managers oversee projects and functional managers manage employees. Because most businesses contain a mix of operational and project activity, the matrix environment is an excellent match. The difficulty with matrix environments is that they rarely come with a pattern for dividing power between functional and project managers, which means that the project manager has no authority and the functional manager has it all from the standpoint of the resources.
While more developed matrix systems may have taken attempts to address the challenges that this split generates, the descriptions of the two jobs seldom include a detailed explanation of authority. This is likely owing to the fact that HR plays a significant role in establishing authority through rules, and they are often behind the curve in adapting their policies to project management.
Acquisition of the project team
The acquisition of the project team is when the problems begin. Project managers, like the rest of the human race, are prone to avarice and would prefer unrestricted access to the greatest resources the business has to offer. On the other hand, functional managers must consider their operational obligations. They will be reimbursed for the resources they give up to the project, but they aren’t generally incented to make sure the project manager has access to their best and brightest. That’s because their success in carrying out their operational obligations determines their performance.
If they devote all of their resources to the project, they risk failing to meet their operational goals and objectives, which might have a negative influence on their pay. I’ve found that having functional managers whose main role is the “care and feeding” of resources is the greatest way to balance operational and project demands. They are free to analyze the conflicting demands of projects and operations and make assignment decisions based on their view of what is best for the company because they have no other operational duties.
The issues that arise during team formation will spread throughout the duration of the project. Project performance will suffer if effort and duration estimates were predicated on a level of performance that some members of the acquired team are not capable of reaching. Informing the project sponsor that underperforming team members are to blame for performance concerns may or may not provide relief. If you haven’t raised the matter previously, the sponsor is likely to be skeptical of your complaint. Poor performance is caused by more than just a lack of competence to do the job.
The bleeding of resource time from the project due to operational needs is by far the most prevalent cause of poor performance. The expectations may be reasonable, and the operational labor required of the resource may be the optimal use of that resource for the organization’s benefit. When the project manager needs to justify bad project performance to stakeholders, this isn’t helpful.
This circumstance is bad enough when the project manager is notified of the need, but it’s even worse when they learn of the change after it’s already happened. The project manager’s degree of authority, or at least the functional manager’s perception of that authority, will frequently decide whether the operational task is discovered before or after the fact.
Recognition and prizes
The recognition and prizes that are utilized to boost team morale are the other sides of the resource coin. The project manager’s capacity to spend money on awards or any other type of team-building activity is generally hampered by a lack of power in this area. HR policy normally governs recognition and prizes, which is why the project manager is not granted permission to bestow them on deserving team members. Another factor is a lack of any type of funding to purchase rewards.
Finally, the project manager may be called upon to deal with team members who aren’t paying attention. They have the capacity, experience, and training to complete the task at the level of competency specified in the project plans, yet they do not. There might be a number of causes for this, but they mainly arise from the resources or lack of dedication to the project. Let’s take a look at an example of a process improvement project to see what I’m talking about. The removal of effort, which will result in employment loss, is a benefit of process improvement (at least in that department).
Some of the team members working on this project may lose their employment; after all, they were the subject matter experts in the previous process. Is it realistic to expect these people to be enthusiastic about the project? Obviously not. These team members will be less than dedicated to the project’s objectives unless the project manager can demonstrate to them how the initiative will benefit them, or at the very least not hurt them.
Jealousy, the perception that their best interests are served if the project fails, a commitment to a project they perceive to be competing, and dissatisfaction that a friend is not assigned to the team are just some of the “political” reasons that a team member may not give the project their best effort. To resolve any of these challenges, the project manager will need some level of power over the resource. This does not necessarily imply that they have hiring and firing authority; simply having the capacity to affect their remuneration may be enough.
Use of tools
Let’s look at various methods to get that authority now that I’ve established the argument for it being proportionate with the level of responsibility. I’ll begin by speaking to those who fund initiatives. You should hold your project managers accountable for project outcomes; it’s their job. However, you can’t hold them accountable until you provide them with the tools they need to fulfill the project’s goals and objectives, and authority is an important part of that toolkit.
You may assist here by agreeing with your project manager on the level of power you’re granting them. Working within your HR department’s policies, you should give them the degree of power you both agree on. Don’t make broad statements; instead, be particular. If there are performance difficulties with team members, the project manager should be aware of their options. The method for defining the project team’s composition should likewise be clearly explained.
What will happen if there are conflicts about individual resources? To achieve this in a way that makes sense for your business, you’ll need to prioritize your project against the organization’s other initiatives and operational duties. When it comes to fighting for precious resources, if the project goals and objectives are high priority, the project cannot be a low priority.
Level of team’s control
Once the team has been formed, their level of control over the team members must also be clearly described. How will the project manager handle a team member whose performance is subpar due to a lack of required skills or experience? How will they deal with the team member who possesses the essential abilities and expertise but is unable to perform due to a variety of factors? So that these issues may be answered, the project manager’s authority must be specified in sufficient depth. It is not necessary to break any HR policies by delegating responsibility to the project manager.
Allowing the project manager to hire or fire resources, for example, may be against policy, but where stakeholders, customers, and others participate in performance reviews, make sure the project manager is included and that their review is weighted in accordance with the amount of time the resource spends on the project and the project priority. On the other hand, some projects are significant enough, and HR policies are outdated enough, that they must be changed. Don’t be scared to rally your political allies and provide HR with a case for change. Even if you don’t succeed in making the change for the present project, you could succeed in making the change for the next large project.
The project manager’s authority will be needed in the area of recognition and incentives. The project manager should be able to describe a project-specific recognition and reward program, or how they will use current recognition and reward programs. Ascertain if they have adequate power to manage the program. In most circumstances, this will imply a budget. Work out how you’ll make the money accessible when it’s needed if the project manager doesn’t have any signing power. Finally, make yourself accessible for award ceremonies and team-building exercises. I’ve never worked with a sponsor who didn’t appreciate these events after being exposed to them.
Project managers with sponsors who haven’t read the above or who aren’t willing to take the initiative with you will have to start the dialogue themselves. Make sure you document the degree of power you require once you’ve established it in detail. You don’t have authority unless it’s written down somewhere. Because of the way people’s memories work, your sense of your authority will differ from your sponsor’s, and that difference will only expand as time passes and memories fade. Remember that the authority you’re granted isn’t given to you out of thin air; it’s the authority delegated to you by your sponsor (or any other senior stakeholder).
The Project Charter should include your authority. You don’t have to go into as much detail as the rest of the charter; you may leave that to specific jobs or reasons. It should be stated in broad terms, such as “the Project Manager has the authority to participate in the project team selection process,” “the Project Manager will evaluate team members and use these evaluations in performance reviews,” or “the Project Manager has the authority to address performance issues.”
Specifics can wait until the project reaches the point where authorization is required. For example, you can request an e-mail from the sponsor prior to team acquisition detailing how choices on individual team members will be made and how disagreements will be resolved.
Project’s goals and objectives
Authority is like a muscle: if it isn’t utilized, it will atrophy and become unavailable when it is most required. Your sponsor has granted you authority so that you may utilize it to achieve your project’s goals and objectives, thus unless you were expressly denied it, you should never fail to achieve them because of a lack of authority. When team members refuse to acknowledge your control over their job, you must utilize it to force your will on them. Don’t mistake enforcing your will for being abusive.
Avoid misusing power
When you use your power for purposes other than achieving the project’s goals and objectives, or when you show favoritism by imposing punishments or incentives, you are abusing your authority. At all costs, avoid misusing your power, but not at the expense of failing to utilize it. It’s a good idea to have your HR organization’s policies and procedures on hand and familiarize yourself with them to prevent misusing your authority.
Project managers who start the authority discussion will have the benefit of being able to establish the degree of power they feel they require. This can be accomplished by stating your authority in the Project Charter’s draft version or in a document that comes before it. This is not a place for the faint of heart. It’s preferable to have authority you don’t require and don’t use than to lack it and require it.
Don’t be afraid to utilize authority you don’t have since neither you nor your sponsor anticipated the necessity. Your sponsor is considerably more likely to forgive you for using authority to achieve a project objective than they are to forgive you for failing to achieve the goal.
Most of what I’ve mentioned here applies to project managers who are full-time employees of the companies they work for, but what about consultants? Even in businesses that are projectized or have a mature, established matrix design, they do not apply to the consultant, therefore they are continually in “matrix” contexts. Consultants must be very careful in defining and exercising their degree of power. Their power will never include the capacity to fire people or pick and choose resources when it comes to assembling a team.
They will only have the ability to recruit contractors and engage in personnel acquisition discussions, so they must ensure that they have a solution in place to deal with an unsolvable situation with a team member. Remember that you are an unknown quantity to the stakeholders when you initially start on the job. They may have heard of you because you interviewed for the job, but you’re still a stranger to them. After a period in the job, you should have earned a degree of trust that allows you to exercise more power, but don’t make assumptions that might put your sponsor in a bad light until then.
Finally, make sure you document your failure to have your sponsor assign the power you require to succeed. What’s the best way to accomplish it without offending your sponsor? Simply said, not having the authority required to fulfill project goals and objectives is a risk that should be recorded in the project’s risk register. Don’t discuss these hazards in personal terms; instead, define them in terms of the risk event and the project’s potential impact if it occurs. A discussion on risk mitigation techniques might lead to you being given the authority.
They should, at the very least, lead to a risk-mitigation approach that reduces the amount of risk. If all else fails and no authorization is granted or suitable mitigation techniques are identified, the project must accept the risk. When the risk register is reviewed with the stakeholders, you still have the option of examining this risk and its approval. A word of caution: the risk indicates that you and your sponsor are at odds; don’t take this as a chance to humiliate your sponsor in front of their colleagues or supervisors.
One final piece of advice for all project managers: asking for forgiveness is frequently simpler than asking for permission. When in doubt, adopt the position of authority and use it. If you overstepped your limits but met your goal, your sponsor may point out the error, but they won’t be as disappointed with the outcome as they would be if you neglected to exercise authority and failed to meet the goal on the basis of the relationship between authority and responsibility in Project Management.
More Interesting Articles
- 7 Important Business Tips of the Day for Rising Entrepreneurs
- 8 Useful Tips On How to Find A Reliable Forex Broker
- 14 Best Websites to Find Apartments within Your Budget
- 7 Awesome Places You Need to Visit in New York, USA
- 5 Healthy Foods that are Good for Your Brain and Memory
- 10 Benefits and Facts about Full Flap Auto Bottom Boxes
- Why Online Education is Important – How To Master eLearning
- How to Become A Project Manager With or Without Experience
- Low-Sugar Diet: Foods to Lower Glucose Levels Naturally
- What are the Sources of Vitamin A and Its Benefits?
- 16 Case Studies: A Comprehensive Amazon Competitor Analysis
- How to Explain the Use of A PERT Chart in Project Management
- How to Set up Voicemail On Android and iPhone Step-by-Step?
- 4 Negative Effects of Video Games on Physical Health
- Boys Who Play Video Games Have A Lower Depression Risk
- How to Train A Cat to Walk On a Leash in A Month
- How to Train A Cat Not to Scratch You or Anyone
- How to Train A Cat Not To Bite Your Hand or Skin
- How to Get My Cat to Stop Jumping on the Counter
- Introducing A New Dog to A Cat Step By Step