Credit Where Credit is Due – A Foundation of Fairness

Today I want to use this phrase to emphasize a true tenant of exceptional project management and effective leadership.

Be fair.

In this field we speak often of setting schedules and budgets which must be maintained. We also agonize over roles and responsibility matrices and communication flowcharts. These are each effective and essential project management tools, but all can be compromised if you do not acknowledge the human element included within the execution of the plan and make all your decisions within the context of overall and individual equity.  These guidelines do represent an agreement and commitment between yourself and your team. Your adherence to these commitments will engender trust and respect and will ultimately empower your team members to advance their opinions and contributions because of their security in knowing how their actions will be received.

One such instance that comes to mind with regards to the blog title has to do with an interim milestone or deliverable achievement versus an overall or final project achievement. Many project managers are good about celebrating and publicizing the achievements of specific team members when it comes to their interim milestones and deliverables. A final design element successfully completed through hours of overtime is announced publically and kudos are passed around for a job well done. But when the project is wrapped up more completely and the overall awards (or blame) are circulated, who steps up to receive this attention?

This can be a more difficult question for the project manager than one might imagine. Purporting humility, fairness, and a strong ultimate responsibility for the project, while often contributing as much or more than any other individual team member to the success or lack thereof of a project, do you share the stage (or blame) with many of your teammates at the final closeout?

Remember; always give credit where credit is due. That includes you, and it also applies when the credit is negative. This foundation of fairness will pay off in the form of respect from your team that no plan in the world can fabricate.

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