I posted this article on LinkedIn in February. I’m sharing it today with my blog community. If we’re not connected on LinkedIn and you’d like to be, just send me a connection request via LinkedIn.
Now for the article on navigating politics…
We all experience it, and we wish we didn’t have to. Politics and corporate culture vary among companies and clients, but they’re always there to some degree…and sometimes you as a BA are caught in the middle. But there are ways to navigate the political waters and stay afloat.
The first thing to understand is that many times, people guard their positions or roles within the company. If you understand and respect that, you’ll have no problems with the politics or the prevailing morale and culture. The situation may be hard to swallow sometimes, but if you can do it, you’ll be an invaluable part of the team—sometimes without trying.
Listen and learn.
Any time you go into a new situation, listen to what is said and how it’s communicated. You can learn so much if you merely observe and listen. Find out who the key players are and what their roles are. People will tell you all they need to know about themselves if you’ll only listen to them.
Take notes if you need to, because you need to know who you’re working with and why. You also need to know how they interact with others and how well they work together.
Watch what you say and whom you say it to.
Unless you’re making general positive statements, be very careful about the people you confide in. If you make the time to listen as I suggest above, you’ll already know who to talk to and who to leave alone. If you need to make negative comments, be certain the people you tell them to are the right people.
For example, you should be able to confide in your team members, but you need to be careful of what you say to the head of the department you’re analyzing. If in doubt, be quiet. It’s much harder to take back words that are said, but if you stay quiet, you can always talk later after you’ve gotten to know people better.
And if you do need to break bad news, be sure you have ample documentation to back up everything you say.
When in doubt, ask—but do it carefully.
This is a tricky one. If you have something to say that is less than positive, you need to know the right people to tell. It’s not always easy to know who they are. If you have a confidant on the team, he or she can help you decide how to communicate what you need to say.