Leveraging politics in planning projects


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Putting a project plan in place & working it is more than documentation, tracking, and reporting. It takes savvy interpersonal skills to get stakeholders on board and owning the result. This slideshow considers how a PM can use positive politics to do just that.

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Leveraging politics in planning projects

  1. 1. Playing Politics Putting a plan in place takes leadership Your presenter is: Alison Sigmon, M.Ed., LPC, PMP
  2. 2. <ul><li>Rules of the game </li></ul><ul><li>Politics with purpose </li></ul><ul><li>Creating VALUE </li></ul><ul><li>Final tips for putting that plan in place </li></ul><ul><li>Closing thoughts </li></ul>What’s on tap for our time together today…
  3. 3. Rules of the game Considerations for organizational politics
  4. 4. If it were just that easy Beyond numbers, deliverables, & charts A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product or service. If it was as easy as tracking, making adjustments, and documenting results, no one would need webinars, books, or training workshops.  Image courtesy of maani.us
  5. 5. It’s a change game No doubt about it. Projects create change. This means somewhere somebody will have to do something different. Chances are they won’t like it much. Change doesn’t happen overnight. EQ muscle Creating and executing a project plan takes emotional intelligence, patience, perseverance, and the ability to navigate some SERIOUS politics. EQ workout
  6. 6. Politics abound Like it or not, politics make the world (and the office) go round.   Gnash your teeth, roll your eyes, but you know it’s true. We spend loads of time talking about it, watching it, and even engaging in it with almost everything we do. Necessary evil? But not like this guy! “ Glory, and above all survival, can lead to the justification of horrible acts of violence and injustice , violating human rights and the safety of the common man among the ranks of the proletariat or even the middle class bourgeois in a kingdom. Machiavelli recommended hypocrisy and ingratitude, meanness, cruelty, and treachery as the traits proper to princes. Everyone recognizes “Machiavellian” as an adjective for political conduct that combines diabolical cunning with a ruthless disregard for moral standards.” http://elizabethanliteraryculture.wordpress.com/2011/03/15/machiavelli-and-his-satire/
  7. 7. It’s about “we” not “me” Negative politics is first person driven. The individual gets things done at the expensive of others. This person wins while others fail. That’s no good! Yay for “us” Positive politics is when we use influence with an eye to the corporate and project mission to get things done. We’re advocates acting in the best interest of the project. Now that’s more like it! Politics: What’s it all mean??? Politics is about getting people with different interests moving in a common direction.
  8. 8. Situation… But… Oftentimes we end up feeling frustrated because of office politics. We all want to have a win-win approach when it comes to our project work. p. 12
  9. 9. Timing and purpose is everything http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://4.bp.blogspot.com/ And it’s tempting to avoid playing in the political sandbox even though it’s part of doing business. When used at the right time with purpose , it can help you put a project plan in place that will actually work . So what’s a project manager to do?
  10. 10. Politics with purpose Raising your personal and interpersonal awareness
  11. 11. Not feeling the political love “ If you want to get ahead, ideally you will bring a high degree of competency in your field of choice and a solid set of interpersonal tools with you. Even football players spend a solid amount of time in a huddle working out strategy about the game. If you don't spend at least that much time considering the politics of your workplace, you'll just get left out in favor of your more emotionally savvy coworkers.” Daneen Skube noted the following in the article Interpersonal Edge published in the Chicago Tribune :
  12. 12. Up, down, look around: It starts with organizational & interpersonal view Have to haves… What does your organization expect in project work? Lay of the land… How do politics work in your organization? Group values… What does your organization value?
  13. 13. Now look inside: Personal view Buddy up… Do you care and feed your network or wait until you need something to reach out to others? Show & tell… Can you show it AND say it? Be present… How do you lead without leading?
  14. 14. Politics with purpose Deeper dive
  15. 15. Start with yourself http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2008/01/four-tricks-com/ <ul><li>Daneen Skube, Ph.D., coach, trainer weighs in on the individual side of politics. </li></ul><ul><li>Practicing deep listening to both emotions and intellectual goals of others. </li></ul><ul><li>Choosing to be effective over being right or defending yourself. </li></ul><ul><li>Focusing on brainstorming solutions, not going on blame hunts. </li></ul><ul><li>Attacking problems at work, not your coworkers. </li></ul><ul><li>Knowing yourself well enough to manage your emotions. </li></ul><ul><li>Understanding your limits and setting effective boundaries. </li></ul>Put it into practice with stakeholders
  16. 16. 1. Create a win-win <ul><li>Get a handle on want they want – quick! </li></ul><ul><li>Find a middle ground </li></ul><ul><li>Check and recheck…opinions & desires change </li></ul><ul><li>Negotiate </li></ul><ul><li>Keep a cool head  </li></ul>
  17. 17. 2. Paybacks are a must <ul><li>Don’t get something for nothing </li></ul><ul><li>Nail the WIIFM early then deliver </li></ul><ul><li>Motivate not bribe </li></ul><ul><li>Back scratch, don’t backbite  </li></ul>Image courtesy of www.saxangle.com
  18. 18. 3. Play nice even with your enemies <ul><li>It’s true – not everyone likes each other or gets along </li></ul><ul><li>Surprise them with your generosity </li></ul><ul><li>Check your ego at the door </li></ul><ul><li>Keep your eye on the prize – successful project delivery  </li></ul>
  19. 19. 4. Care and feed your network <ul><li>It starts (and ends) with relationships </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t wait until you need something to reach out </li></ul><ul><li>Sniff out the champions </li></ul><ul><li>Hang out…give some time  </li></ul>
  20. 20. 5. It’s about “we” not “me” <ul><li>Ambition is fine but there’s a line </li></ul><ul><li>Authenticity builds trust </li></ul><ul><li>Creating dialogue: a conversation with a center, not sides </li></ul><ul><li>Seek to understand not refute  </li></ul>Image courtesy of www.nf5.com
  21. 21. Create some VALUE Practice puts a project plan in place
  22. 22. So how do you avoid the whispers of &quot;Oh no, here they come again?&quot; Caring and feeding relationships requires presence and  VALUE . V isibility  – Ask questions; be curious about people. Adapt your style to the style of others. Determining best fit A vailability  – Stop multi-tasking and be present for others. Focus on the person or people with whom you're talking. L ead by Example  – Do what you say you’re going to do. Treat others how you like to be treated. U nderstanding  – Show empathy for constraints.  Lend a helping hand. E mbracement  – Create ownership by hearing and incorporating their ideas.
  23. 23. Determining best fit Bringing VALUE to the politics table will go a long way to advancing your project’s interest. Stakeholders are different and yet we tend to use a one-size-fits-all approach when riding the politics train.
  24. 24. <ul><li>Be present: Get out of your own way </li></ul><ul><li>Be aware: Pay attention to what people are saying and not saying </li></ul><ul><li>Project big picture: Keep your eye on the endgame </li></ul><ul><li>Be clear about </li></ul><ul><li>… what’s needed </li></ul><ul><li>… when it’s needed </li></ul><ul><li>… delivery & follow up </li></ul><ul><li>… expectations & acceptance criteria </li></ul><ul><li>Get help when you need it </li></ul>Tips for bringing it home
  25. 25. Questions??? In conclusion <ul><li>Rules of the game </li></ul><ul><li>Politics with purpose </li></ul><ul><li>Create VALUE </li></ul><ul><li>Final tips for putting that plan into place </li></ul>
  26. 26. Thank you! Alison Sigmon, M.Ed, LPC, PMP asigmon @systemation.com @alisonsigmon