What is a Functional Manager?

What is a Functional Manager?

Not all heroes wear capes, and functional managers are one of them. We have heard a lot about the project managers, or strategic managers or line managers but functional managers? This is a broad concept, and to understand it, the person who looks after a certain functional area of an organization, be it a team or a department or a unit, and provides the necessary resources to carry out a high standard project is a functional manager.

Who is a Functional Manager?

Duties & Responsibilities

The day to day duties and responsibilities of a functional manager are as follows:

  • Assist the team with professional suggestions and advice on the projects undertaken.
  • Convey important data, messages or information regarding projects.
  • Keep a track of the progress of the team and its performance.
  • Prioritize the work pressure and allocate resources according to it for better results.
  • Set up a master schedule and work according to it along with the whole team.
  • Examine the projects and find the best budget-friendly way to complete it.
  • Identify and solve the team problems leading to inefficiency.
  • Carry out periodic evaluations of employees to gather the best of the best team for the job.

Eligibility & Skills

No one would be surprised if you need some skill assets of your own to be a functional manager. There are indeed some skills that you either inherit or need to polish if you opt for this post:

  • Leadership: Talking about any manager job, the first and foremost skill that one must possess is the essence of leadership. Functional managers shoulder the huge responsibility of leading and co-ordinate with a team.

  • Communication: Proper communication skills are an important asset for functional managers. Be it the clients, stakeholders or his/her own team, strong verbal and written communicators always find it easy to handle the work pressure much better than others.

  • Time Management: Master the time and you will master the job. Delivering perfection within a short time is not everyone’s cup of tea. You have to learn the subtle art of time management not only for you but also for your team so that you can work as one and the assignment can be flawless. 

  • Finance Management: It is the job of the functional manager that the resource meets the cause. Prioritizing the work and allocating the resource accordingly requires excellent financial management skills.

  • Conflict Management: It is very common whenever a team works together, many conflicts or problems arise. It is the job of the leader to rightly deal with it so that the team spirit doesn’t get broken and in turn doesn’t harm the work in progress.

Putting the skill sets aside, one also needs mastery of courses like Business Administration or Finance related subjects like Economics or Accountancy. A Bachelor’s degree won’t be enough in this tough era of competitiveness. A master’s degree would cut the glass much easier. Besides, degrees wouldn’t do much help. The most valuable asset in this field is experience. Certain Project Management Professional (PMP) certification programs are recommended to get the first-hand experience of the workload for this post. 

Employment Sectors

The functional managers are the heart of an organization. They look after the projects and keep a track record of efficient employees right for high-rated projects. Every company or organization almost needs them, be it any private company or an NGO. Therefore, they play a critical role in the survival and establishment of the organization. Since the term ‘functional manager’ is a huge and broad concept, it offers various job posts in a variety of sectors. Here are some of the sectors where functional managers hold a critical position:

  • Project Management Firms
  • Project Consultancies
  • Financial Service Providers
  • Tech Consultants

Dream Job Roles

The concept of a functional manager is so wide that there are wide arrays of job roles to choose from. You can choose the job which best suits you. Given below are some of the best-selected positions: 

  • Customer Service Manager
  • IT Manager
  • Project Safety Manager
  • Accounts Receivable Manager
  • Sales Manager
  • Development Team Manager
  • EMC Test Laboratory Manager

The Line of Difference

  • Functional Manager vs Project Manager:

The line of difference between a functional manager and a project manager is that a functional manager manages people with specific skills and different resources that meet the organization’s functional assets. On the other hand, a project manager brings people from different functions and specific skills to complete a specific task before a deadline. Sometimes both the managers have to work together to share their resources and experiences for grand projects but, the two are not the same.

  • Functional Manager vs Line Manager:

While the functional manager manages how the functions of a company are carried out and looks after the functioning employees, the line managers deal with the organization’s administrative department. In addition, he manages other employees who are fit for the job and those who are not. If any individual refers to the term ‘boss,’ they refer to their recruiter, the line manager.

  • Functional Manager vs Strategic Manager:

The functional manager only looks after the company’s department he is in charge of while the strategic manager thinks for the whole organization. They view all the actions related to the company and are expected to come with the best outcome which will benefit the company in the long run. Therefore, they prioritize the business objectives and develop strategic masterminds to avoid the potential risks from the market. 

  • Functional Manager vs Operational Manager:

A functional manager looks after the day-to-day work of a small department in an organization. In contrast, the operations manager looks after the day-to-day operations and functions of the whole firm or organization.

Is Being a Functional Manager the Real Deal?

There are indeed pretty biased opinions and objective ones but to best discuss whether it is a big deal or not is up to the one who is applying for the post. The best way to know is by judging the pros and cons of the job. According to you, if the pros weigh out, the job is the ‘real deal’ for you.


  • The job requires critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. If you have the knack for it, there would be not a more ideal job for you.
  • You will stay in a safe position and in touch with the higher management or the authority.
  • Good work can help you promote higher management roles in no time.


  • The job can be hectic and a serious headache sometimes with the tremendous pressure to handle clients, deadlines, stakeholders, and enforcing targets along with deadlines.
  • A lot of decisions have to be taken in no time, which affects the company and becomes a serious liability in case of a mistake.
  • If you are not much into the paperwork stuff, then don’t go for it as the major part of the job as a functional manager is to generate reports and keep a track of the team progress.

How Much is the Payscale?

Let’s be practical, the most typical question that hits everyone before they give any job a shot. No fillers, just pure research and facts shown by PayScale and Glassdoor estimate that a functional manager receives an annual salary of around $75,000. However, these may vary as per companies, but the range stays above $70,000 according to various reports.

Being a functional manager takes a lot of calibers. Credits will feel wholesome for a successful project, but you have to take responsibility when failure strikes. Life isn’t a bed of roses for them, but at the same time, the challenges this post will throw at you are unparalleled to any. If you love challenges and get a kick from them, then you chose the right job for you.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. How many years of experience do I need to become a functional manager? Experience is the most valuable asset for such a high-profile job with tremendous work pressure. A 5 years work experience is recognized to be fair.
  2. Are project manager and functional manager the same post? There is a fine line of difference between the two. The project manager works with people with different functions and specific skills for the goal while the functional manager works with people with different resources and specific skills.
  3. Can people with a Science background apply as functional managers? No, this post requires specialization in financial and business subjects.
  4. Any study material for better understanding? There are indeed a lot of study materials in the market, to begin with but our top 5 are, ‘The One Minute Manager’ by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson, ‘Good to Great’ by Jim Collins, ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Stephen R. Covey, ‘First Break All The Rules’ by Marcus Buckingham and the last but not the least, ‘The Five Dysfunctions of a Team’ by Patrick Lencioni.
What is a Functional Manager?

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