Drama should only be on the TV and not in your projects

Have you ever had it when there’s been some massive drama in your project and you’re having to deal with it? Either with inter-personal conflict or people turning up the conflict unnecessarily?

During a recent coaching session, I was supporting one Project Manager who is having this conflict at the moment. They are working in a large, multinational company and there are A LOT of complex stakeholders involved. One particular stakeholder wasn’t happy that they weren’t being included “enough” in the project and decided to spread rumours that were false about the project status and how certain team members were getting ahead in the project/organisation. All in all, a very unproductive use of their time and something which was causing the Project Manager to lose a lot of sleep and spend a significant amount of energy resolving.

This is what I suggested that they do and how they handle this situation:

  1. Identify who is spreading the gossip and ‘fake news’
  2. Understand why they are behaving like this and what their motivations are
  3. Look at what you do to mitigate the issue and rumours
  4. Go on a PR mission to resolve and get the Stakeholder on side
  5. Get your stakeholders aligned and onside.

In this example, the stakeholder in question felt that their position in the organisation was being weakened through this project and they wanted to ensure that they remained ‘important’. I coached the Project Manager on what they could do to bring that person onside and what they could to try and mitigate any further issues from appearing.

Then we took on the PR mission and what we could to resolve the rumours from being spread further or causing more damage to the projects reputation. This involved getting key stakeholders on board and supporting the project openly and vocally. This wasn’t an easy thing to achieve.

It wasn’t easy.

What would you have done if you were the project manager? Would you have tried other ways to diffuse the conflict or situation?

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