Ethical Issues in Project Management and How To Deal with Them

Ethical Issues in Project Management and How To Deal with ThemWhen it comes to the workplace, right and wrong decisions may not be so obvious.

For many project managers, ethical considerations are bound to arise at some point. They can rear their ugly heads in the form of interpersonal disputes or in the broader project goal. Here are some common problems you might run into while shepherding your team to the finish line:

Post-project repercussions.

You may be tasked with overseeing and delivering on a project within an inadequate amount of time. This can mean that elements may need to be foregone in order to complete the project on time, else you risk the project not being completed at all. Essentially, you may be required to identify shortcuts. The results of your project, however, may have some lasting effects. So what do you choose when you must either deliver a precarious result or let the project fail altogether? Consider the stakes. For example, if you work in the area of pharmaceutical development and the new drug your team is working on could really use some extra time or resources before it hits the market, the stakes are pretty high. If you deliver a substandard drug, you may find that it has some severe adverse side effects in the long term. If the stakes are lower in the sense that the potential long-term risk is lower (for example, not within the field of healthcare), you may choose to move forward with your amended project, knowing full well what the risks are.

Your team members have varying work ideologies.

This problem may be more likely to present itself in multi-generational teams. You may find that the baby-boomer generation has a more traditional outlook, preferring to maximize efficiency through long hours. On the other hand, you may encounter Generation X, Y, and Millennial team members who value a better work-life balance and prefer to maximize efficiency through technology and other innovations. So how do you work with a diverse team and meet everyone’s needs? Prevention is key. Make it clear what the company-wide policies are regarding employee expectations and reiterate this to your team pre-project. Be sure to encourage communication with each other and with you if they feel the need to.

You, as manager, are at fault for the project’s failure.

First of all, a project’s success is never guaranteed, so when you do experience a failure, try not to take it personally. However you should conduct a “post-mortem ” to identify how and why it failed. And sometimes that failure may be everything to do with you; perhaps you failed to delegate an element that slipped through the cracks, or you missed your own deadline. Whatever the reason, take responsibility for it. If you sweep it under the rug or try to pass the blame to someone or somewhere else, you risk undoing the trust that you’ve built with your team. Chances are, your team will already have some idea that you failed as manager anyway, so don’t underestimate honesty and communication.

A team member dropped the ball.

This is a tricky one. When you fail as project manager, it’s appropriate for you to own up to it. But when someone on your team fails, can you assign blame? The simple answer is no. No benefit will come from singling out one of your team member’s shortcomings in front of the team. Shame is not a great way to strengthen your team for future projects. However, you will need to seek external disciplinary action if the team member’s failure was due to some larger ethical issue, like theft. Keep in mind though, that the latter situation should still be kept private. If someone other than you directly fails, chalk it up to a team failure and move on.

If you’re ever in doubt about how to ethically handle a problem within your team, seek some outside advice. Other colleagues, mentors, or your HR department can have insight that will help you to see the project through. Just because you’re the leader, doesn’t mean you have to be an island.

Recommended Project Management Software

If you’re interested in learning more about top rated project management software, the editors at Project-Management.com actively recommend the following:

1 ClickUp

Visit website

ClickUp is one of the highest-rated project management tools today. Use Docs, Reminders, Goals, Calendars, Chat, scheduling, assigned comments, custom views, & more with this all-in-one project management tool.

Used by 800,000+ teams in companies like Airbnb, Google, and Uber, it brings all of your projects into a single app! Built for teams of all sizes and industries, Our fully customizable & proprietary features make it a must-have for anyone wanting to keep project management in one place.

Learn more about ClickUp

2 monday.com

Visit website

monday.com Work OS is the project management software that helps you and your team plan, execute, and track projects and workflows in one collaborative space. Manage everything from simple to complex projects more efficiently with the help of visual boards, 200+ ready-made templates, clever no-code automations, and easy integrations. In addition, custom dashboards simplify reporting, so you can evaluate your progress and make data-driven decisions.

Learn more about monday.com

3 Smartsheet

Visit website

Smartsheet is an online work execution platform empowering organizations of all sizes to plan, manage, automate, and report on work. Over 80,000 brands rely on Smartsheet for project and work management.

Learn more about Smartsheet


Share Article


Tags:

David Grover Avatar
Get the Free Newsletter!
Subscribe to Project Management Insider for best practices, reviews and resources.
This email address is invalid.
Get the Free Newsletter!
Subscribe to Project Management Insider for best practices, reviews and resources.
This email address is invalid.

Demos, trials & More information


Check out our library of 60+ pm books