Whether you like it or not politics can be a big part of your project and organisation. Knowing and understanding the politics that are existing in your organisation is key to understanding what is needed to be done to overcome it. During this blog, I’ll go through some of the most common reasons for why politics may exist and what you can do to overcome it. My role as Project Manager is to try and cut through all of the politics to ensure that there is a clear message and direction for the project. This can mean working through some of the political minefields to accomplish this task.
First things first!
It’s important to understand why the politics exists in your project. Is it purely ego? Is it done to try and damage your project? Is it part of the organisations culture? I try to make a note for myself of who the stakeholders are and who is “playing the game”. More often that not, this investigation can be a real challenge to work out who is the root of the information/rumour.
I tend to use my network within the company and team to be able to work out who is being politically minded when distributing information and work out how I can use this to my advantage (if possible).
What to do?
One reason why politics can be so dangerous within a project is because of the noise and information that can be sent to important stakeholders. I try to make sure that to avoid this happening, that I use my communication plan to align with stakeholders regularly and make sure that I’m keeping them informed.
Understanding who is important in your project is critical for success but there is more to this. You need to understand who is important, why they’re important and how they need to be managed. An example is below:
Samir is a Project Manager of a project managing the implementation of a new workflow in the production line of a factory. The implementation wasn’t handled very well and the project was continually running into problems or issues with communication. Samir started talking to his colleagues and soon realised that someone was spreading rumours about the status of the project amongst senior stakeholders. After investigating this fully, Samir realised that it was Business Analyst who in his own words: “Liked to gossip” who was talking to his peers around the coffee machine and at the work’s private gym. Once Samir had confronted his colleague, he worked on his relationship skills to turn this around and instead give a different story to be shared. This didnt work at first, so Samir escalated this within the PMO and the Business Analyst was formally penalised and requested to redirect his energy towards his work rather than gossiping.
Politics in projects are a really delicate subject and it’s something that I recommend that you approach with tact, sensitivity and understanding. Do you have a top tip for dealing with politics in your project? Let’s share knowledge!