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Should you have a formal project code of conduct?

Observing on social media the latest controversy about a speaker at an organised event got me thinking about project teams. How many of us have been spoken to disrespectfully, shouted at or insulted when working? Or asked to do something that you really shouldn’t?

You’d think in this day and age that a document outlining acceptable standards of behaviour in a work environment would be unnecessary, but unfortunately I, and my colleagues, have been subjected to and witnessed innumerable examples of unprofessional, disrespectful and outright criminal behaviour when working on contracts.

The Project Management Institute (PMI) has a formal code of ethics and professional conduct that members of their organisation agree to, but should each project have a specific code of conduct that everyone signs up to before the project begins?

Mike Talks (@TestSheepNZ) made a really good point (that I failed to pick up on) that if you’re using Agile, the team charter will go a long way towards covering everything that a good project code of conduct should.

If you’re working in an organisation that has a corporate code of conduct, then it makes sense to use that instead – it just needs to be shared with the project team and stakeholders (both (external and internal).

If a code of conduct doesn’t exist, here’s some ideas about what should be included in the project document:
Be Respectful
Live by the adage treat others how you would wish to be treated and you can’t go far wrong
Be Honest
No matter what the situation is, always tell the truth
Be Brave
If you’ve witnessed or experienced something that doesn’t feel right, speak up. Don’t feel like you have no voice and cannot bring people’s attention to something that is wrong

I think that having a formal code of conduct on a project is a good thing as not only does it lay out in clear, unambiguous language, the expectations around behaviour it gives the project team a framework to work from if something untoward does happen.

 

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