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Honor Codes and Elements of Self-governance on Your Project Team

January 16th, 2013 · 1 Comment

Have you ever encountered an Honor Code at a college? I have recently bumped up against it and think it has some great application on project teams.

An Honor Code is all aboout getting the desired behavior – albeit moral, ethical behavior – among those to whom it applies. Here’s a quick look at the framework for an Honor Code that you can use in organizing your project team.

I think there are five imperatives that you, as a Project Manager, can leverage from Honor Codes. Here they are:

  1. The desired behavior of team members must be explicitly stated in writing, which becomes the “code of behavior”.
  2. Each individual team member must agree to follow the code while on the team, and even to honor it once they leave.
  3. Each individual must commit to enforcing the code, and must accept that they may be confronted by other team members regarding the code.
  4. There must be a system of “public” discourse in place, which could easily be a formal part of meetings.
  5. The “code” should be self-enforcing because of the clarity and commitment on the part of team members, but there needs to be an authoritative structure to remedy issues that are not handled at the individual level.

Students at colleges with strong Honor Codes report that the code provides them with a trememdous degree of freedom and actually reduces stress. It takes a plethora of issues off the table – and off your shoulders and those of all team members. I think there are some lessons here to borrow into the project management space.
John Reiling, PMP, SSGB

Tags: Project Management Process