The Project Management Code of Ethics You Should Know

The project management profession doesn’t gel well with ethical ambiguity. The decision-making process requires that all team members act in respectful behavior. However, the bulk of the ethical responsibility falls into the manager’s lap.

In that sense, project managers should promote core values and demand professional conduct. Setting clear ethical standards from the get-go is part of the PMI code. Such a management style often results in a professional environment.

Therefore, there are aspirational and mandatory standards comprising good ethical conduct. Properly implementing them into everyday tasks is the next challenge. Here’s how you can accomplish this:

Key takeaways

  • Ethical Decision-Making: The PMI code of ethics emphasizes ethical decision-making, demanding professional conduct and respect within the team, and putting the long-term success of the project above personal self-interest​​.
  • Core Ethical Values: Project managers should adhere to four core values: responsibility, respect, fairness, and honesty. These form the foundation for building trust in a diverse working environment and for managing risks effectively​​.
  • Professional Conduct: Project managers are expected to act professionally, fulfill commitments, and encourage participation and honesty among team members. They should support their team, learn from mistakes, and maintain transparency in all actions​​.
  • Daily Ethical Practices: Ethical practices in project management involve avoiding shortcuts, sticking to plans, ensuring equitable team participation, and supporting team members. Managers should also be honest and transparent, especially when corporate rules or project targets change​​.

Basic Outlines of the Code

The Project Management Institute produces the project management code of ethics. They’re a set of qualities that any good project manager should master. In broad strokes, they refer to ensuring a fair and respectful working environment for all parties involved. So, the PMI code of ethics puts your self-interest second to long-term project success.

Ethical decision naming fits in any professional community. Those principles aim to provide fair compensation and equitable pay. As such, personal bias gives way to the prevailing norms of the organization.

The ethical duty remains an important value regardless of how fast project management changes. Ethical decision-making leads to trustworthiness, which is at the core of any good team. Thus, the project management field works with the basic humane concepts, not against them.

Key Aspects

There are four core values within the project management code of ethics. They focus on proper team building and risk management. Together, those pillars set the grounds for various successful projects.

Here’s what the professional code entails:

  • The project manager accepts much of the responsibility around a failed task
  • Showing respect to any other team members or collaborators is a necessity
  • Working on establishing mutual trust in a diverse working environment
  • The manager should encourage the other members to express their views
  • Favoritism is not allowed; instead, act objectively and promote fair play
  • Frequently set examples of ethical behavior through your actions

Essential Elements and Daily Tasks

Professional ethics in the field of project management consist of several rules. Here’s what the project management code of ethics entail:

Act Professionally and Be Hard Working

As a leader, you must work on your integrity at all times. For example:

  • Avoid taking too many shortcuts
  • Walk your talk
  • Stick to the initial plan

Ensure all Team Members Participate in the Activities

No person on your team should feel sidelined or neglected. Instead, everyone should be vocal about what bothers them and ask for changes. So, work on developing an aura of respect within all departments.

Fulfill Your Professional Commitments

The manager should never be late with their to-do list or allow pending tasks to pile up. Thus, exceed the average working capacity and lead your team forward.

Support Your Team Members

Sometimes, a coworker may confide in you and share their concerns. In such cases, you should provide support and try to improve the environment. You should do so with caution as if you were tasked to guard a company’s intellectual property of sorts.

Learn From Your Mistakes

Regardless of how detailed the initial plan is, mistakes will happen during work. Hence, there’s no point in trying to cover them up. Instead, document what went wrong and learn how to avoid that pitfall in the future.

Act Truthfully and Honestly

Strive to provide only accurate and reliable data to your team. That will inspire them to follow the chain of command diligently.

Be Transparent Regarding the Corporate Rules

The higher-ups might change their targets after the project commences. At times, this can even result in a lower number of employees. When such dangers arrive, you should still find a way to present the situation as clearly as possible.

Earn Your Coworkers’ Trust

Your team might comprise people from various backgrounds and social statuses. Yet, it’s the manager’s job to connect with all of them and secure a smooth workflow.

Adopt an Impartial Viewpoint

You shouldn’t allow a team member to slack and then point fingers elsewhere. They should share the same level of responsibility. So, judge each situation fairly and quickly provide a resolution.

Acknowledge a Job Well Done

If your team performs beyond expectations, you should applaud it. Failing to acknowledge such achievements will diminish the overall team spirit.

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Important Factors for a High Success Rate

Following a strict moral map often will not be the easiest route forward. At times, you might be tempted to take a shortcut and quickly make headway. However, such an approach leads to short-lived successes. Plus, finding solutions to difficult situations will further strengthen your career.

Here are some of the pros when utilizing the project management code od ethics:

  • Many challenges will exceed your expertise levels and warrant outside help. Hence, you’ll have to learn how to cope with such roadblocks. Attempting to power through by yourself will not be the best course of action then.
  • The team might run into tricky ethical dilemmas before they can solve an issue. Thus, you’ll have to take both sides into account before ruling. To do so, carefully examine their respective pros and cons and prevent unethical conduct.
  • Forming a coherent group of people demands that everyone act honestly. Also, there should be a system in place when difficulties arise. If everyone can rely on each other, the prevailing culture will be rooted in deep moral principles.

However, professional conduct can aid you in other aspects as well. For example, setting a feasible moral framework will be a pillar for the entire team. The process fairness is nigh guaranteed among such a surrounding. At the same time, this grants equal respect to any team member.

On the other hand, putting your personal preferences at the forefront raises many moral questions. Project management transparency will suffer if the lead allows for such an internal shift. In short, that does not fit into the idea of a sustainable career.

Types of Ethical Dilemmas

Internal Conflicts

Most projects include a wide network of vendors and third-party collaborators. That means that each of them comes with a given set of expectations. More often than not, those may be at odds with the company’s goals. Trying to please everyone will spur far more issues than it will solve.

To avoid putting your team in an unwinnable position, consider other viewpoints first. Also, inspect whether a team member has certain connections with some outside party. If that’s the case, remind them that acting for their personal benefit raises a red flag.

Make Every Man Responsible for Their Actions

Once the manager divides the roles as they see fit, the rest of the team should put their best leg forward. If someone feels unprepared for the task at hand, they should be vocal about it.

Otherwise, the manager should gauge each individual result independently. Next, the team should be aware of what went wrong, and some parties should share the blame.

Mind the Regulatory Requirements

The PM should secure modern work environment standards at all facilities. Tham means non-hazardous conditions and new equipment. Otherwise, any work accident may result in prolonged trials and a chain of lawsuits.

Treat Each Team Member Equally

Your team might consist of people from all over the globe. That means some of them will have a set of beliefs different from the rest.

However, this shouldn’t be a cause to favor some of them. Instead, expect the same level of performance from all members.

Practical Tips and Tricks

Introducing proper work ethics into a working environment demands a careful approach. These are several examples of how to do so via an effective project management code of ethics:

Decide What’s Best for the Team

Start with your case when promoting accountability and fairness. For example, if some other company offers you a reward for taking their offer, refrain from voting. At the same time, notify your coworkers about that development.

Keep Everyone Up to Date

Some corporate meetings will not be available for most employees. However, you should waste no time passing on the key takeaways. Respecting your team is the primary value of the Code of Ethics.

Protect All Members of Your Team

Internal backlash may put a single member in an undermined position. As soon as you notice such an outcome, take action by notifying the higher-ups. Also, immediately try to defuse the situation.

Ensure Fair Wages

Nowadays, projects may quickly take another direction and expand their set of goals. Still, that doesn’t mean that your team should suffer for it. Instead, reward everyone who brings more to the table.

Don’t Rely on Bias

Focus on giving equal room for each team member to grow and perfect their skill set. If you keep on playing favorites, you’ll end up crippling your own resources.

Ending Thoughts on Project Management Code of Ethics

To produce good wind on your team’s back, set the stage for fairness and accountability. The PM’s actions should communicate confidence and inspire people to do better. Also, your team should know how to reach out to you and rely on your judgment.

As a project manager, you should stick to the PMI Code of Ethics and make examples of its implementation. That means resolving any issue in the best interest of the entire team. Highlighting such ethical guidelines often is another way to get everyone on the same page.

If you liked this article about project management code of ethics, you should check out this article about challenges in project management.

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By Bogdan Sandu

Bogdan is a seasoned web designer and tech strategist, with a keen eye on emerging industry trends. With over a decade in the tech field, Bogdan blends technical expertise with insights on business innovation in technology. A regular contributor to TMS Outsource's blog, where you'll find sharp analyses on software development, tech business strategies, and global tech dynamics.

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