Sunday, April 15, 2007

Project Management Basics: People and Politics

When it comes to classifying people and politics, there is a lot to contemplate as both have a tendency to develop numerous conflicts. I will be honest, I have witnessed quite a few, when working in project management, however; nothing compared to one I had several years ago (which I will never forget).

I've had the pleasure of working on a group project with two individuals who clearly proved how unprofessional they are. I have never witnessed anything so "extreme" and had no idea that politics could set two people off. As I find politics important, I felt compelled to recognize these two individuals work ethic and selfishness. One of the individuals was a Democratic liberal and the other was a Republican. Both individuals were women and both were rather radical in their political beliefs' and their general views on government. Of course, I was unaware and never thought anything of it, as did our supervisor at the time.

I have always identified as Independent and although I wasn't radical in terms of general view, I was moderately swayed to never engage in political discussion in the work place or when working on any type of project, unless a political opinion or stance called for it. And even they, biting my tongue was always an additional skill I would enforce upon myself. I was rather extroverted, yet obscure and I tended to focus primarily on the project. After all, a project has deadlines and there is no time to engage those who share a different point of view than you do.

As I was writing a minor dissertation from an outline I created, I decided to go find a pen that would work. I'm not a fan of pencils and there were no pens in sight, so I attempted to go into the other room. All of the sudden, without hesitation, I heard yelling. Of course, I didn't think much of it, as I assumed it was two people arguing elsewhere. It continued and I began hearing it again. At this point, I knew something was wrong. I walked up the hall and could hear some vile words exchanged. In my mind, I was thinking "that sounds like, wait a minute" and as I entered the door, they were arguing with each other. I've never heard so much yelling in my life over political rants.

All I could think about was how immature and weak were these two individuals to argue over something that had nothing to do with the project we were all working on. Without hesitation, I told them both to stop and to grow up. Of course, they both blamed each other for the outburst and continued to argue, despite my attempts to break up the argument. I was so appalled, I just left the room. My supervisor wasn't around, so I just waited for him to show up, so he could witness their behavior for himself.

Eventually my supervisor showed up and had the opportunity to solve the argument. However; things took an interesting turn shortly after. These two people were not "done" with their argument. In fact, this was only the beginning. As both of these ladies were married, they decided to involve their husbands. The next day, I get to work and anxious to finish the project, I heard what sounded like an argument between two men. Neither of these men sounded like my supervisor nor any of the coworkers that generally show up early.

I proceeded to look outside and there are two men yelling, if not screaming at each other. In fact, it got so bad, that they started shoving each other and one of the women's husbands says "let's go". At this point, one of the ladies who worked for a company in the same building, threatened to call the police if they didn't stop, so eventually they did stop. I was rather shocked that these women, who are professionals, would allow an argument over government to affect their life to the extent, they had to involve others in their argument.

Politics are on the same level as religion, at least that is what it seems to be. I am speaking in terms of individual views and the general belief system to some people. I was unaware that politics would create such an affliction in the work place via project management to the extent that professionals would involve their loved ones. Although, political views and overall insights add a little extra to what you are delivering in a project, as well as, rational discussion (or potential rational discussion and/or dialogue), it truly depends on the people who embrace them. Politics are able to cause more damage than none and prove to be a true conflict in the work place.