Ethics in Project Management: Being Right or Getting Paid?
By Jorge Dominguez
Some time ago I was convinced that a decision made by upper management was going to impact the outcome of the project I was managing negatively and when I told my boss about arguing the decision he replied: do you want to be right or do you want to get paid?
I would like to think that most of us would want to be right. But in reality, in most organizations we work at, we choose to get paid. Why? Well, it may be that the culture of the organization is such that upper management just hits on top of the table with a fist and that’s it, there is nothing anyone can do about it. Or it may be that we are indifferent, we just work there by accident.
Project Managers (and I would say everybody, not just Project Managers) have a responsibility to do what is right and honorable. And if you have a PMP® certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI) you are bound by the Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct to set high standards for yourself.
This code rests in four pillars: responsibility, respect, fairness, and honesty.
- Responsibility – It is our duty to take ownership for the decisions we make or fail to make, the actions we take or fail to take, and the consequences that result
- Respect – It is our duty to show a high regard for ourselves, others, and the resources entrusted to us. Resources entrusted to us may include people, money, reputation, the safety of others, and natural or environmental resources
- Fairness – It is our duty to make decisions and act impartially and objectively. Our conduct must be free from competing self interest, prejudice, and favoritism
- Honesty – It is our duty to understand the truth and act in a truthful manner both in our communications and in our conduct
I am not sure if other project management organizations have a similar standard but I can almost bet they do. In any case, what is wrong with being loyal and promote the best interests of the organization you are affiliated with? It can only help you become a better practitioner.
At this point you may be asking yourself what did I finally do at that time, did I choose to be right or did I choose to get paid? In all honesty, I made the wrong choice and decided to get paid. I was not holding any certification at the time but either way, shame on me.
Jorge Dominguez, PMP®