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individual decision making but to knowing when a decision is best made by a group and when by an
individual. Until recently, autocratic managers made all decisions. Now we hear about participative
management and consensus decision making by teams; in some cases, there has been a reversal, with all
decisions being made by team consensus.
This is a misunderstanding of participation. There are times when consensus is mandatory and times when it
is not, and the project manager must know when each style of decision making is appropriate. Again, for
guidelines on when each is appropriate, see my book on project teams, cited earlier. Methods
Methods refers to the tools of your trade—whatever you use to do the work. For example, CAD
(computer-aided-design) might be a tool. Some form of estimating methodology might be a tool. And so on. Culture
The culture of an organization affects everything you do. It can best be summed up as “the way things are
done around here.” Culture is formed by the values, beliefs, attitudes, behaviors, and traditions of the people
in the company. Note that the corporate culture is affected by ethnic cultures as well.
One factor affecting project managers a great deal is that many organizations are becoming more ethnically
www.erpvn.net multicultural. This has always been a problem for international project managers, and it is a growing problem
for managers in the United States, where different team members may think differently and have different
values because of their varying cultural backgrounds. If we are to manage these differences, we must, first, be
aware of them and, second, respect them. The fact that another person’s culture causes him to think differently
does not make him wrong, but it will cause confusion in the work place until the difference is dealt with.
For example, a manager told me that he had been trying to manage his group more participatively, but an
employee from another country had said to him, “Don’t give me that participative crap! If you want me to do
something, just tell me.”
He asked me what to do. I told him to deal with the employee in an autocratic way for now, since that is what
he expects and (more important) respects, then to move him gradually toward a participatory style. This is
important. You have to deal with people where you find them, then move them to where you want them to be.
Trying to deal with them where you want them to be usually fails if the gap is very large. Organization
Every organization must deal with the assignment and definition of each person’s authority, responsibility,
and accountability. Too often we see managers trying to delegate responsibility without giving the person any
authority. It simply won’t work! Planning
Good project planning is essential for success. Most American companies, however, do not value planning.
Managers talk a lot about planning, but the reality is that they would rather do than plan, and it shows. Every
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- Fall '13
- Project Management, project manager