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What does a Functional Manager do?

K.C. Bruning
K.C. Bruning

Functional managers, also known as line managers, can manage the performance reviews for a particular department or an entire organization. Project managers usually report to managers at this level, although some organizations combine the two positions. In that situation, the manager would also oversee specific projects in addition to the overarching needs of the organization.

The duties and responsibilities of someone in this job depend on whether there is a project manager in the organization. Individuals in these two positions tend to work together closely, but what their roles involve varies according to the culture and needs of a particular company.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

Typically, a project manager will report to a functional manager, who will then provide a link to senior management. This higher-level manager will also usually manage and control the resources needed to complete a project. For this reason, strong cooperation and communication between workers in the two positions is crucial for the timely and effective completion of any open projects. It is also important that the managers both have a clear understanding of their specific roles in order to prevent the development of unnecessary conflict.

If there are both types of managers in an organization, then the functional manager will usually provide oversight to all projects rather than playing a specific role in their completion. In this role, he or she will ensure that all projects are in line with the overall goals and philosophy of the organization. An organization with both positions is often referred to as highly functional.

These managers may also provide oversight to a particular department. An individual in this role would monitor one or multiple projects for adherence both to the general needs of the organization and to the specific requirements of the department. This typically includes properly allocating and organizing resources so that there is a healthy balance between the needs of all parties involved, from the executives to the workers assigned to the project.

If the two roles are combined, then the position could entail everything from ensuring compliance with organizational needs to the fine details of both departmental requirements and a project itself. There could even be multiple projects for which the functional manager would have responsibility. When there is not a separate position, the organization is often referred to as highly projectized.

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Discussion Comments


@Bhutan- I think that I'd rather be a project manager because I prefer looking at the long term strategic view of a project. I rather coordinate with a variety of managers and handle one project that encompasses different things.

I think that this makes the job more versatile because every project is different and you will have to collaborate with different managers to get your project done. I would not want to manage a specific department day in and day out. I would feel a little bored with it.


I think that a functional manager model allows for a more focused form of management. It allows a manager to really specialize in a area that they excel in.

My sister was a marketing manager for a large company and had to watch her sales budget and focused on promotions. She monitored the sales revenue of last year’s sales against this year’s sales and measured the efficiency of all media campaigns.

She really enjoyed her job and often had to partner with various project managers for competitive studies on key products.

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