Hierarchical management versus project management

In this article, we look at a number of concepts, segmenting them into 2 main approaches

  • Team management and project dynamics
  • The differences are quite significant, and relate in particular to the notion of the group.

Time management in project management can be experienced quite differently from hierarchical management

The levers of motivation are sometimes easier to find in project management.

  • Career management and power
  • The differences are also linked to the notion of appraisal and career management

Hierarchical management

In the context of team management, with the classic institutional hierarchical concept, the manager has a multiple role: he or she often manages the organisation of work, the allocation of tasks, the development of staff skills, quantitative targets, monitoring the completion of tasks, etc

Each department has its own job, in which processes are put in place to develop habits, rituals, collaboration and so on

It is in this way that the notion of the group within the team is organised (see the group according to Sarthe) and that employees’ points of reference are put in place.

Let’s take an example:

ABCD’s finance department has a CFO as director, a management controller who liaises with the operational departments, and 4 accountants: one for supplier accounting, one for customer accounting, one for HR management (expense reports, pay slips to support the HR department, etc.) and a senior accountant to check the data and manage the other accounting items.

Everyone has his or her own role, rituals and habits. Things are well organised, and each day has its share of recurring tasks. On a monthly basis, certain operations have to be carried out on an exceptional basis (VAT, URSSAF, etc.) and give the team a little ‘boost’, because it creates a change in the daily routine: a change of pace and actions. And every quarter and every year, there are major meetings to ensure that the day-to-day work has been done properly, such as consolidating the accounts.

The CFO manages his team on a day-to-day basis. From time to time, exceptional accounting meetings enable him to motivate and stimulate the team through challenges: being on time, balancing the accounts and correcting all the little errors that have been overlooked.

It’s a simplistic way of working, but let’s not forget that the objective is illustrative.

How do you motivate and unite a team in these rituals? Can you ensure that after 5 years the team is still smiling when they arrive at work each morning?

Managers sometimes find this a difficult challenge!

That’s why some managers may prefer to turn to project management..

Project management
Behind the notion of project management, we approach the notion of group differently from the notion of Sarthe. It incorporates the ephemeral nature of the project.

The project is made up of a group brought together around an objective which has a precise deadline and can only be carried out once. This clearly shows the extent to which management can be distinct and the levers of motivation different.

In the previous case, the processes were generally established.

In the present case, everything is potentially to be created, and may only live once, and therefore not integrate the process logic. Of course, these comments need to be tempered, because even in the project logic, processes can be integrated.

What we are relying on here is the notion of creation and ephemerality. The project manager brings together the skills he or she needs for the project, and may not have any hierarchical power over the teams: he or she is not responsible for the employee’s assessment, nor for his or her possible promotion, nor for his or her level of remuneration or the validation of any training courses he or she may take within the company.

How do you motivate and unite a team around a project? How do you get staff to mobilise their energy to achieve a common goal?

Here, the answer may seem more obvious to some: imperative deadlines and a common goal, the search for solutions, a dynamic nature..

We could draw a parallel with a couple’s life: after a few idyllic years J , habits sometimes get the better of them. The couple will try to spice up their relationship with different options: some will travel, others will make friends, and so on.

In the 2 examples we have given – hierarchical management and project management – different managerial qualities will be sought. However, the line manager will have every interest in creating a project dynamic in his team to keep them motivated, just like the spice in a marriage!

  • What qualities would you most look for in a project manager?
  • In the “hierarchical” manager?
  • In an economic environment that demands greater adaptability, does it make sense to look for the project manager’s managerial qualities in a line manager?

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