What To Do With a Hidden Agenda

Posted by Kristin Arnold on December 21, 2011

My client was complaining about his teammate’s hidden agenda.  Curious, I asked him to tell me about it – which he did, and in some detail.

I had to laugh.  This isn’t a case of the “hidden agenda.”  This agenda was well-known and in the open.  Instead, it was a case of a “misaligned” agenda.  My client’s agenda and his teammate’s agenda didn’t match up.  To make matters more complex, there are actually four levels of potential misalignment:  1) Between team members; 2) Between a team member and the team’s stated objective; 3) Between a team member and the organization’s stated objectives; and 4) Between the team’s objectives and the organization’s stated objectives.

Most people are pretty transparent. When you take the time to notice their behaviors and what they are saying, that hidden agenda becomes not so hidden.

You also need to take the time to verify that your perceptions are true.  As human beings, we have a great time making stuff up, reading between the lines and dreaming up all kinds of plots and daring-do that are simply by-products of an over-active imagination.  In my experience, people are much more straightforward about their desires.

There is; however, a small, miniscule percentage of the population who is much more machiavellian.  These folks have an ulterior motive – and you don’t know what it is. But you do know they have an agenda – and it is hidden from you.

Regardless of the type of agenda, it is best to get the agendas out in the open, on the table, and constructively discuss them as a group.  The goal is to bring all the agendas (individual, team, organizational) in alignment.  You may even surprise yourself and shift your own personal agenda!

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