Project Management Ethics and Professional Conduct – Part 3
“Goodness is about character - integrity, honesty, kindness, generosity, moral courage, and the like. More than anything else, it is about how we treat other people.” Dennis Prager
“Respect for ourselves guides our morals; respect for others guides our manners” Laurence Sterne
This blog is going to discuss the “Respect” Standard referenced in the Project Management Institute (PMI)® Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. All quotes below are from that document, and a link can be found here: https://www.pmi.org/about/ethics/code
My earlier articles can be read at: www.projectmanagementforum.net
Respect in this context does not just apply to your treatment of others, but it includes the “resources entrusted to us”. PMI takes an expansive view of resources and includes “people, money, reputation, the safety of others, and natural or environmental resources.” There is also an emphasis on encouraging diverse perspectives and views, and a belief that respect will create an environment of trust, confidence and performance.
This is exceptionally important in a project! A good project manager understands that encouraging and respecting diverse perspectives is crucial to almost all key project processes! How can you possibly to assess project risk if everyone brings the same perspective? How can you understand why you are behind schedule if people are afraid to speak?
The Aspirational Standards are (distilled) that we should understands the norms and customs of others and avoid being disrespectful. We should listen to others point of view, approach people with whom we disagree and conduct ourselves professionally, even when not treated that way ourselves.
As with the first standard, I don’t understand why these are aspirational. If you fail to exhibit any of these behaviors you will put your project at risk, so why aren’t they mandatory? None of these items are particularly difficult to accomplish and all of them reflect good management principles. If you don’t listen to others point of view, how can you possibly be a good project manager? It is your responsibility is to deliver the project through subject matter experts!
The Mandatory Standards are (distilled) that we negotiate in good faith, we don’t use our position to personally benefit at others expense, we aren’t abusive, and we respect others property.
The admonition to not use your position to benefit at others expense is particularly interesting given the recent scandals in Hollywood and Washington, where powerful people certainly used their positions to benefit while harming others.
The good news is that these are easily accomplish! Just be a decent human being! If you conduct yourself honorably, then you will have no problem with this standard.
Process matters. Take the recent discussion in the United States about “sanctuary cities”, where the elected officials in those localities have unilaterally decided to ignore existing Federal law. Regardless where you stand on the issue of immigration, the process matters. The process of ignoring Federal laws is called nullification, and it is in part what caused the United States Civil War! For those of you who support that approach, where does it end? Can a city decide to nullify the United States Tax Code and declare a “tax sanctuary city” where no Federal taxes are paid? Or how about a Second Amendment “sanctuary city” where no Federal gun laws apply? Process matters, so be careful when you abandon them for expediency sake. All project managers should appreciate that!