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11 ways company politics can thwart your projects

Moira Alexander | Jan. 27, 2017
Politics is an unfortunate reality in many workplaces, but there are steps you can take to reduce the pervasiveness and impact to projects.

4. Creating conflict at every turn without being part of the solution.

At the start of each project, a PM should communicate expectations and convey that prior to bringing up any problems, an individual must also come prepared with potential solutions. This creates teams of critical thinkers always thinking forward and focusing on project success rather than failure.

5. Supporting or advancing only those employees who align with self-serving views or goals.

It's human nature to gravitate towards those whose views and opinions align with our own, but as a business or project leader this should not be the case. A project manager should not inject personal bias, nor impact progress. Often real progress and innovation come about through the differing experience or views.

A project professional should encourage and explore diversity in approaches in order to find the best solutions for stakeholder interest. This may involve entering into difficult discussions with senior management about the benefits of views from different vantage points. The focus should always remain solely on the stakeholders.

6. Inappropriately leveraging personal influence.

This is a significant problem in the workplace, and often undermines the valuable efforts of others, while serving the needs of only a few. Being an effective project manager isn't just about using your technical, job-related skills and knowledge, it's employing other softer skills such as the ability to recognize hidden problems.

Project leaders should keep close tabs on the progress of initiatives, as things can take a sudden turn in the wrong direction. When this happens for no apparent reason, misguided, and often self-serving influence may be at the root. A PM has a responsibility, to continually remind all parties to limit influence towards furthering stakeholder needs only, and not their own agendas.

PM leadership at all levels should work diligently to pay attention to these and other more subtle destructive behaviors that can compromise relationships and project tasks. Once these behaviors have been uncovered a PM professional should work with sponsors/executives to address them directly, immediately, and fully before moving on. Unresolved issues like subtle sabotage and cover-ups can be highly damaging at every level of business and destroy project gains.

7. Seeking ways to leverage the knowledge of others without reciprocating.

Sharing of knowledge in of itself is an educational process. A PM should strive to convey to all project participants the benefits of knowledge sharing as well as the risks to project objectives of not doing so. Project leaders can also help to alleviate individual fear and insecurities as they arise since this is usually at the root of withholding knowledge. By helping in this regard, it creates a more cohesive environment for team members and makes it easier to share knowledge and collaborate more openly.


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