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2 June 2010

Office Politics (You make the call)

Recently I was discussing with a colleague an experience she had. She was hired to lead a moderate sized change project. There was to be some minor I.T. work, but the bulk of the effort was in managing organizational change.

Her first act was to identify the key stakeholders and commence work on building a collaborative working relationship. Unfortunately office politics reared its head and she ran into trouble. An operational manager who was a stakeholder, and who should have been relatively minor in the scheme of things, decided this change manager needed to be shown who was who in this zoo.

This problematic operations manager then started spreading malicious (and unfounded) rumors about the change manager’s competency and running interference on her project.

What was our change manager to do? As a consultant she felt she could not effectively rely on internal HR processes to resolve the situation. Besides, processes such as HR facilitated dispute resolution can be slow and often ineffectual in the context of projects. We operate in a turbulent environment anyway, where change is the name of the game. And lastly, HR departments are not really geared up to assist external operators like consultants who are in and out in a few months.

She turned to her sponsor, but fund that the relationship she had had with him had been damaged by the rumors. She was committed, and alone, without support.

Earlier we had discussed the options of leaving or staying and for various reasons she was committed to seeing this project through.

What should she do?

Picture cc from  lamont_cranston at Flickr