Ethics is about doing the right things. When you have integrity, you will continue to do them, even when no one is watching.
What if your manager is forcing you to do something unethical? The best advice is to stand your ground and find a new job (or manager) if necessary.
Projects can be full of ethical dilemmas – the hard choices we must make. Ethical dilemmas occur when all choices lead to something that goes against moral principles. These occur many times in project management, as management or stakeholders’ pressure you or the team to:
- Produce incomplete reports, half-truths, and lies with statistics
- Skew results “just a little”
- Delay reporting to avoid harmful data or emphasize positive data
- Develop scapegoats – who to blame for poor results
- Emphasize one area to prevent scrutiny of another
- Report positive or negative progress not supported by data
- Make unapproved changes or “gold plate” the project
- Not exercise due care – not follow processes
- Failing to correct team members who are not pulling their weight
As you make choices and have possible solutions and decisions, consider the following questions to make sure that your actions will be ethical:
- Am I feeling pressured to decide one way or the other?
- Does the proposed action meet requirements, is it legal, and does it conform with all regulatory requirements and policies?
- Is it fair and balanced for everyone concerned?
- How will I feel about myself once I go home?
Keep in mind that trust and integrity are essential to teamwork and maintaining your ability to manage by influence. Once an unethical behavior is uncovered, it is difficult to regain the trust you need to succeed.
Need help in making more ethical decisions in projects? Check out the PMI Ethical Decision Making Framework.
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