In the early part of 2017, Lifelock released a set of commercials I found amusing but didn't give much thought. Perhaps you've seen them:
A couple of weeks ago I was discussing different projects and roles with a friend and we made an amusing discovery. Many companies don't want a Project Manager... they want a Project Monitor! Here's what I mean:
1. A Project Manager leads the project team, a Project Monitor reports when team members fall behind.
2. A Project Manager works to solve problems, a Project Monitor raises problems up to higher management.
3. A Project Manager is responsible for the outcome of the project, a Project Monitor is insulated from the outcome of the project.
Over the years I've been Monitor and Manager, changing project to project and culture to culture. Most of this decision point isn't made by the person in the role but by the culture that the company promotes and exists in. Most companies that are not projectized are more Monitor than Manager because the expectation is that the managers of the different topic/functional areas are actually managing their teams, and the PM spends most of the time identifying changes in the situation, monitoring status, and letting those leads fix the issues or adjust the work.
By contrast, most projectized company cultures have the team members report directly to the Project Manager, who is responsible for the budget, the workload, the obstacles, and the efficiencies of the team. These staff members are "on loan" to the project from the functional areas or are assigned to projects consistently and may even be shared across projects. When shared, it is typically the PMs that work out the workloads amongst themselves, with a Program Manager or other higher level executive (PMO, VP) working out priorities and conflicts between projects.
I will not say which is better. In most companies, I see a mixture of both, depending on the priorities of the company and the strategic direction. What I can say is that many companies, when conducting special projects, will create a project team and "loan out" key personnel for that project, which is led by a Project Manager. The real question is what is best for the situation and project?
So which are you? Monitor or Manager?