Playing the Politics Game

Kenneth has 14 years of healthcare experience in government and private industry. Over eight years of experience managing healthcare IT projects, operations, contracts, and personnel. His work experience includes project management, contracts and procurements, data analysis, claims adjudication, business writing, and business process modeling. Kenneth was certified in 2006 as a Project Management Professional.

In the history of governments, there have been great leaders and great politicians, and only occasionally are they the same person. A cursory glance at history books or the current news will show you many examples of scandals and destroyed careers of people who played the game of politics and lost for various and sundry reasons. When you lose at politics in government, it can be disastrous not just for your career but also for your entire life.

With all the prominent examples of what happens to people who play the game of politics and lose, why then do many project managers insist on playing politics while trying to manage projects? For all of the negative outcomes, the rewards and positive outcomes can be just as great. The positive outcomes can apply to the project and the project team as well as the individual. There are some very good reasons to play the political game on a project (as well as a few really bad ones), and there are some strategies a project manager can employ to stay out of the pitfalls of the politics game.

And sometimes, the game is a necessity that comes along with the job, the project and the whole mess of leading people toward a common goal. After all, without government (and the art or science behind it), how else could a group of people work together in one accord?

Strategy 1: The Flip Side
When more than one person is involved in a …

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"There are two types of people in this world, good and bad. The good sleep better, but the bad seem to enjoy the waking hours much more."

- Woody Allen