Sneaky Ways Project Participants Sit on the Fence

It’s usually easy to tell when champions, end users, collaborators, or even other project management team members are stalling. But occasionally, more subtle tactics come up that are a bit harder to spot. See if you recognize any of these sneaky ways your project participants might be sitting on the fence and hampering the team’s progress.

They attend planning meetings but avoid anything that looks like actual execution. These fence-sitters may be visibly enthusiastic when it comes to formulating strategies. They might even drive many of your project’s planning activities. But try to make a final decision or get down to the implement phase of an idea and they’re either noncommittal, uncooperative, or they may simply disappear from meetings and other project events. Often employed early in the process, this tactic sometimes also appears mid-project.

Critical strategic activities are continually delayed. A key executive never seems to be available for that final budget authorization discussion. The primary group of end users can’t pull themselves away for a crucial project meeting. If you suspect there’s a delay tactic going on, take a minute to look at the person who’s responsible for scheduling these activities or allowing others to participate. They may be stalling (and blaming it on someone else) instead of making a decision and sticking to it.

The project management team keeps growing without signs of clear progress. Stakeholder numbers often swell as a project gets underway—end users begin to feel the impacts, leadership teams are increasingly involved as money is spent, etc.—but this may also be an indirect way for someone on the team to put off committing to a course of action. As more new people are added, the fence sitter is likely hoping there will be additional discussions or negotiations around whatever issue it is they’re wrestling with.

project management fencesitters

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