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Get your hidden agenda


out of the closet!

  • CLIENT or BOSS or PROSPECT: Here’s a project we’d like you to do. Please tell us how you would do it, how long it would take and what kind of budget you’d recommend.
  • CONSULTANT or MANAGER: Who’s the project for? What’s the purpose? Who or what’s being targeted? When do you need it done? What’s the budget you have to work with?
  • CLIENT or BOSS or PROSPECT: Don’t worry about that stuff. We’re not sure of the target and we have no due date or budget; you tell us what you think.
  • A WEEK LATER: “We’ve reviewed your proposal and we don’t like the target you selected, we think it should be done quicker and it’s too expensive.”



     Every business or organizational group works on two levels: The level of the task represented on the surface, and the level of the “hidden agenda” — the undisclosed needs and motives of individual group members.

     Personal goals, values, attitudes, and fears impact the ways that individuals react to or respond to the group’s surface task. Hidden agendas siphon off valuable energy that can be used to accomplish the task at hand.

     People play power games by withholding information. By not telling the person(s) on the receiving end of an assignment, what the parameters are for a particular project, the CLIENT or BOSS or PROSPECT undermines prospects for success. By assuring him or herself of increased personal control, she or he is simultaneously dooming the project to failure.

     Hidden under the surface, you’re likely to find many individual conflicting pushes and pulls. Group members (according to a University Associates Handbook for Group Facilitators) have personal and subjective needs for belonging, acceptance, recognition, self-worth, self-expression, and productivity.

     The needs of one disgruntled or over-zealous or manipulative or misdirected individual can block the needs of another, or of the entire group, or the entire project. These blockages can be resolved in a minute, or drag on for years…in some rare instances, a lifetime.

     The Pfeiffer & Jones Group Facilitator Handbook suggests:

I wonder if we have said all that we feel about the issue. Maybe we should go around the table and ask for individual comments so that we can open up any further thoughts”

…as being the kind of statement a leader might ask anytime that hidden agendas appear to be threatening progress. 

     When you detect a hidden agenda, get it out of the closet!

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Input welcome anytime: Hal@TheWriterWorks.com (”Businessworks” in the subject line) or comment below. Thanks for visiting. Go for your goals, good night and God bless you! halalpiar  # # # 

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