Human beings are political animals. So, office politics aren’t going away anytime soon. You might as well come to grips with that reality. But did you know that left unchecked, office politics can ruin your win probability (P-win) on captures? I’ve seen some bad situations in my day and here are just a few ways that office politics can tank your P-win.
1. Instead of focusing on beating the competition, you’re focused on beating each other in the game of politics. How much of your capture and proposal budget is being spent on actual needle-moving activities like customer meetings, demos, writing whitepapers, color team reviews, black hats, strategy sessions, etc.? How much time is spent on politicking activities (i.e., gossiping, back-stabbing, credit-taking, self-promoting) and the ensuing drama it causes? If you’re short on budget for bidding activities, this is a good question to ask yourself so you can get back on track.
2. The people with the highest merit don’t get promoted. The most skilled politicians get promoted. When this happens, it sends a strong, clear message to team members about what behavior is valued in the organization and what is not. This can cause a high degree of resentment and team dysfunction with team members who are diligent and provide high-quality work. These team members are your MVPs during a proposal and a complex capture, and the chances are that you need them more than they need you. Eventually they’ll get fed up and leave if they don’t feel valued.
3. Company leaders don’t really know “the truth on the ground.” A root cause of office politics is competing interests amongst different stakeholders. For example, without strong leadership sponsorship to pursue a specific opportunity, if BD is incentivized to submit more deals, and Capture is incentivized to win deals, and Operations is incentivized to increase profits–this can be a disastrous recipe. Leadership objectives and incentives need to be aligned. When they are not, politicians feed leaders highly sanitized information (i.e., not the full truth). This impacts the leader’s ability to make sound bid/no-bid decisions. Sadly, some company leaders prefer to stay removed, so they can shift the blame to other team members if things don’t go well.
The bottom line is this. If you’re having to read Robert Greene’s 48 Laws of Power just to survive the day-to-day office politics, you’re going to need to address this if you want to win more bids.