What To Do When Everyone At Work Is Out For Themselves

When a group of ambitious workers come together, there are bound to be some ulterior motives and hidden agendas. Here’s how to deal.

What To Do When Everyone At Work Is Out For Themselves
Image: Flickr user Terence S. Jones]

If other people are affecting how we manage ourselves to the point where it is affecting our executive edge–that special quality few people possess but many companies seek–then we’d better learn to manage behaviors that are hard to deal with in our workplace.


It would be wonderful if everyone were nice to each other and had each other’s best interest at heart. But the reality is, many people are out for themselves. Sometimes it is a personality issue, and sometimes it is the way the corporate structure is set up.

What do we do with all this? It is a big issue in many companies today. But if your goal is to have executive edge and lead and succeed, you have to see the big picture and realize that a leader is only a leader when there are followers.

You have to be above all the petty behaviors. Although difficult, it is critical for your future to learn how to deal with these kinds of behaviors. All these behaviors come from ego. While some ego is important, having an inflated ego can hurt you.

Have you ever gone to a meeting and not had the same goal as the person leading the meeting? If you have not, you are an exception. Why is it that we sit in meetings all the time and know that we have a different goal but do not think that others have different goals when we are leading meetings?

Hidden agendas can kill an idea, and if we are not aware, these agendas come out of nowhere and we are not prepared to battle them.

Every person is motivated by something different. It is important to remember that when keeping your goal top of your mind. How do you find out what people’s hidden agendas are so that you can meet your objectives?


Have Mini-Meetings Before the Meeting

Your goal is to build relationships and engage so that people feel connected to you. When you have a connection with people, aren’t you less likely to do something behind their backs?

Tips for Avoiding Hidden Agendas

  • Be aware that hidden agendas exist in almost all situations.
  • Make an appointment with key influencers before group meetings.
  • Find out what their agendas are. What does each person want as an outcome of the meeting? Ask each person.
  • In the meeting make sure you address all the needs you heard.
  • Listen.
  • Ask good questions; delve deeper.
  • Start with simple, easy-to-answer questions and then build the questions deeper.
  • Do not put anyone on the spot with a direct and uncomfortable question.
  • Check for facts and make sure you are not imagining a hidden agenda that does not really exist.
  • Be aware of what people say and do if you think they may have a hidden agenda.
  • Be aware if a person says one thing and then does another.

Excerpted from Enhancing Your Executive Edge: How to Develop the Skills to Lead and Succeed (McGraw Hill, June 2014) by Kim Zoller and Kerry Preston, partners at Image Dynamics.