Zimbabwe: Professional, Social Responsibility On Projects

Most professions in the world require formal certifications and have specific and enforceable requirements. For example, a medical doctor is a person who graduated from an accredited medical school, passed state examinations in appropriate areas of expertise, and is licensed to practice medicine in conformance with known regulatory laws and ethical practices.

This also applies to lawyers, teachers, public accountants and drivers. What about project managers?

How many organisations in Zimbabwe specifically require that the project managers they hire have certification, be it PRINCE2 ® or PMP?

If you were to scan through adverts, which are looking for project managers, carried in most local newspapers – most employers are silent on this requirement. Why?

Can we attribute the silence to the fact that projects in Zimbabwe are being implemented without any challenges?

No, many project managers in Zimbabwe just make the project happen as best they can and wait to see what happens, including getting fired.

Project managers are often given unrealistic project completion deadlines or milestones without objections or adjustments but knowing that the deadlines cannot be met. As project managers, are we being honest? Is it ethical?

Did you know that…?

Did you know that it is unethical to waste company or Government resources because you have not properly planned a project, and it is unethical to manage a project without a business case, project charter or a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)?

It is unethical to manage a project if you have not been trained in project management?

Did you know it is unethical to provide a project schedule that you do not believe to be accurate?

If any of these statements do not sound realistic, then PMIZ welcomes you to the world of professional project management.

Professional and social responsibility requires the project manager to handle an unrealistic schedule problem upfront. This may mean the professional project manager saying, “Assign the project to someone else!” or “You have requested that the project be completed within two months. Our assessment makes us very certain that we can meet that due date only if we adjust the scope, cost, or quality on this project. If we cannot make any changes, the project will be completed in 5 months”

The Project Management Institute (PMI®) Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct which has four distinct categories that guides project managers in their work, namely: Responsibility, Respect, Fairness and Honesty.


Responsibility – Ownership of Decisions and Actions

Make decisions based on the best interests of the company, rather than your own best interest.

This is an easy rule to remember, but it can be difficult to apply in real life, especially if the project is suffering as result of the negligence of the project manager.

Only accept assignments you are qualified to complete. Can you imagine saying to your boss: “I cannot take that assignment, because it requires project contract administration and I am not qualified to manage contracts”.

Do you think your boss would accept that? Probably not, however, if you are given a project to manage that is beyond your qualifications or experience, make sure the sponsor knows of any gaps in your qualifications before accepting the assignment.

Do what you say you will do – including completing projects on time and acknowledge your own errors.


Respect – The Appropriate Treatment of People and Resources

As a project manager you need to maintain an attitude of mutual collaboration among the project team members.

A critical part of respect in the area of professional and social responsibility has to do with cultural differences.

Cultural differences can mean differences in language, cultural values, non-verbal actions, and cultural practices. As a project manager if you do not plan how to handle these differences and do not monitor and control their impacts, they can easily impede the project.

The Honourable Deputy Prime Minister of Zimbabwe Professor Arthur Mutambara recently said at a project management workshop in Harare, “… as project managers handling strategic projects you need to have cultural intelligence (CQ) in order to succeed”.

In Zimbabwe there are many projects that involve foreign investors, a good example being the Ziscosteel project by Essar and other Chinese projects.

As a project manager you need to embrace cultural diversity otherwise you will suffer a culture shock – a disorientation that occurs when you find yourself working with other cultures in a different environment.

Uncover cultural differences when identifying stakeholders, including differences in work ethics and practices.

It must be noted that cultural differences do not only occur between people from different countries; they may also occur between individuals from the same country.

As a professional manager engage in good faith negotiations – have you seen someone negotiating without ever intending to enter a contract or negotiating a provision in a contract they have no intention of honouring?

What about someone presenting information as a fact when the person knows at the time the information is untrue? These are examples of not negotiating in good faith.

Do not use your power or position to influence others for your own benefit Have you ever said to yourself, “How do I get this person to do what I want?”

This could be a violation of professional and social responsibility if you are trying to influence others to do what you want, rather than what is right or most appropriate in a given situation. Project managers cannot use their power or position to pressure others.


Fairness - Being Objective and Making Impartial Decisions

In many countries (Zimbabwe included) bribery is punishable as a crime and that can result in jail time?

So what is bribery? Is it bribery if someone asks you to pay a fee in order for them bring machinery through a country? How about if someone requests a payment for police protection?

In many countries, fees for services such as protection and bringing machinery through a town, or fees for issuing permits and other official documents are allowable and are not considered bribes.

What about other payments? Would it be appropriate to accept a free automobile or a free weekend holiday for you and your family? These are probably not allowed by company norms.

Professional and social responsibility requires us to treat others fairly and not discriminate.

Do not use your position for personal or business gain. It is a violation of professional and social responsibility to use your position for personal interest or business gain.


Honesty – Understanding the Truth and Taking Action Based on Truth

We often simply accept what people tell us and do not spend time seeking the whole truth.

When you think of the many activities on a project and the different people involved, you can see how important it is to accurately understand the truth of a situation.

As a professional project manager be truthful in all communications, and create an environment where others tell the truth.

Do you ever hide that the project is in trouble? Do you say that you can accomplish some piece of work or a whole project when you are not really sure if you can?

If so, you might have some issues with truthful communication. It is a well-known fact that project managers and their teams abuse the percentage unit, they are quick to say, “We are 70 percent complete” when in fact you are only 20 percent done. It is not ethical!

As can be seen the professional and social responsibility on projects requires a “head-on, heart-on and hands-on” experience.

PMIZ is commemorating International Project Day on November 3 at the Chapman Golf Club in Harare and the theme for this year is “Project Management – the Power of the Profession”.

As a project manager why don’t you join others to network and share experiences on these and other project issues?

Robert Taruwona is the President of the Project Management Institute of Zimbabwe (PMIZ).


Published by the government of Zimbabwe

25 October 2011

Article source: http://allafrica.com/stories/201110250307.html


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