Series: Why Projects Fail – Politics

One of the most difficult things to figure out, and usually it is too late when you do, is when politics are involved in the execution of your project.  If you are someone that likes to work to accomplish a goal, people deliberately delaying you won’t even be on your radar.  It can be very difficult to pick up on the background activities that affect your efforts.  Somehow you know what you are doing shouldn’t be this hard, take this much time, or have this many obstacles and most likely you are right.

Here are some puzzling maneuvers, found out or confessed later, that have delayed or even derailed a project:

  • Territory issues: Managers involved will lose staff if your project succeeds or their visibility in the company will be diminished
  • Replaced: You were hired to take over duties another person used to do and now when you need them to complete tasks and keep you informed, things screech to a halt and silence becomes the norm
  • Didn’t ask me: Decisions made before you arrived that exclude certain staff members preferences become a sticking point for participation from that person throughout the project
  • Golden Child: Staff who know they are the only one on the team with knowledge you need for your project, pick and choose when to be a team player and when not to
  • Control Freak: Slows down the project by requiring an every changing checklist, ensuring their thumbprint is on every aspect and nothing happens without their knowledge or approval even though they are clueless or don’t really care about the project objectives

These are just some of the obstacles that can happen, initiated by people who are usually fearful of the change, results of the project, and participation demand.  For some, constant communication, being heard, and proper escalation can help.  For others you may have no choice with those that are determined and have more power than you to slow execution, abandon the project, or even find another position in or outside of the company.