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Functional and Non-functional Decision Making

written by: Regina Woodard • edited by: Ginny Edwards • updated: 5/23/2011

As a project manager, a person needs to make a variety of different decisions in a variety of different ways. But what types of decision making techniques can help a newly minted manager? What type of skill does a project manager need in order to get the job done right?

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    As a project manager, an individual needs to make a variety of different decisions, for a variety different types of situations, in a variety of different ways. A project manager needs to know which members to choose for their project team, when they need to meet, and what to do if issues or problems arise. And this is just for the project that the company may be working on at the given moment.

    What types of decision making does a project manager, especially a newly promoted one, need to know or learn in order to be effective?

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    The Functionality of Decision Making

    This simple answer to the question above is that it truly depends on the situation that a new manager finds himself in, however, there are certainly different types of decision making methods that can help a manager, especially if they are aware that they fit into a certain category.Types of Decision Making 

    • Functional - functional decision making entails a leader's ability to either be flexible, authoritative, or democratic. Being flexible is being able to go with several different ideas or options that are presented by team members, internal sources, or external sources, while an authoritative method type means the project leader makes all the decisions and those decisions are the word for the rest of the group. Democratic types allow for everyone to have a say, whether their idea be right or wrong.
    • Non-Functional - non-functional decision making may have some part of flexibility to it, but these are often the types where spontaneity gets out of control or when decisions aren't truly made. Think of this as a 'wishy-washy' type of method, as the project leader leaves everything up to chance, having a whatever will be will be type of attitude. This type of method is not an ideal situation as projects can fail because of these attitudes. For example, if the project manager doesn't go over certain details to the team or if they do not have the team research and investigate certain details, the project may not go forward as planned.

    Strong functional decision making skills will help in understanding and communicating with your group members, as well as being able to dole out important information and roles to them so that team hardships don't impact the productivity of the work. Sometimes you will notice that when the productivity stops, so does keeping your project group motivated, which can lead to procrastination problems. As the project manager, you will need to make decisions on how to best to keep the project and the team moving forward. Depending on your type of decision making, this may be easy or hard.

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    Conclusion

    The important thing is to recognize which type you are - communicate with your group members on how you may best serve them and your project as the project manager. There is nothing wrong with getting feedback and the most effective managers know that they can continue to grow and learn with the help of those they manage.

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    References

    Overview of Types of Decision Making from Decision Making Confidence, http://www.decision-making-confidence.com/types-of-decision-making-styles.html

    Image via DreamsTime