I was recently working on a site with multiple divisions and
one smaller division wanted to optimize their section of the site for a given phrase, it turns
out that two other pages already rank for the term. First, they didn't realize that's how it worked. Then, they insisted that their pages should rank instead. Unfortunately, it’s not
likely when there are already two powerful pages already ranking on page one. It's a hopeless battle, and the only winner is the competition.
You could feel the frustration. It was time for the chat about how the whole site is one site, and Google identifies a given page as the most relevant. We talked about how to take advantage of that fact, by adding a way to drive traffic to this division’s section from the pages ranking in Google. Then, go after other terms for this division’s pages. It was a win-win situation because, with SEO, you can only go after a limited set of terms -- we just opened the door for the site to rank for another keyword. Plus, it gave additional justification for the smaller division to get real estate/visibility on other pages of the site (an internal battle they were facing at that very moment).
As the SEO in-house, it’s your job to transform the challenges into opportunities for all to see. It's all in how you spin it, you just need to find a positive viewpoint of the situation. How do you do this? Understand what's going on in the organization. The best way is to befriend people elsewhere in the organization and talk about what they have going on. Here's what I like to do: Get the person talking in general about the company and/or their job/department, then ask curiously, "what are the biggest challenges you're facing right now?" The beans get spilled and you learn things that you'll be able to use later.... how do you think I knew about that real estate battle??