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Submitted by JonathanGiglio on


Help me my Manager Tool brethren and sistren, you're my only hope.

I cannot help but get INCREDIBLY frustrated when cross-functional teams attempt to delays projects based on some form or process, usually of their own internal design.

What can I say to break the log jam? I'm looking for a way to call them out on their attempts to delay and motivate them to remove the road blocks.

What's worked for you in the past, what hasn't worked?



JonathanGiglio's picture
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Always keeping in mind that my goal is to be effective and change behavior, perhaps I could simply ask "What can you do now while you wait for the process to continue?"




Kevin1's picture

Since you can't just use the Force, these would be my suggestions.

Step 1 would be something like...I'm not sure if you are aware, but the delay that is being caused by process X is having an adverse impact on the timelines for project A.  Is there anything I, or anyone in my team can do to assist and help speed things up?

Assuming no progress, Step 2  would be something like...Unfortunately, I'm going to have to report no progress in the the Project A status meeting on Monday due to delays around process X.  Do you have any news on progress or alternatives that I can report?  Is there anything I or my team can do to help?  - This comes from the Don't Drop a Dime Podcast where you want to give them plenty of warning before any public sharing of a lack of progress.  Highly recommended cast.  Another point in it would be that you aren't trying to name and shame them.  Shaming does not build long term healthy relationships.  Do whatever you can to avoid their public humiliation.  Those in the meeting will be smart enough to work it out for themselves.

Hope that helps.




mmcconkie's picture

The most important recommendation I can make is to make sure you have great relationships with the members who are slowing you down. Remember that relationship power is typically more effective than role power. Make sure that these people know you, and ideally like you. That will help them look for future potential log jams, and hopefully help you avoid them. There is no shortage of casts on how to build an effective relationship - so I won't bog you down with that. When your relationship is solid, I think you'll find that the majority of the delays disappear. 

Good luck!

JonathanGiglio's picture
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Relationship power - wouldn't that be nice. I like to think of myself as a people person, the trouble is that all of the teams are remote. I believe this is one of the primary causes for this kind of behavior. They get on a conference call, speak their peace, delay the project and hang up. There's no communicating, no back and forth. It's not like you can even take the coworker out to lunch or a coffee or something. And asking what their favorite beer is - forgetaboutit.

I've tried clear agendas and letting teams know that they have one chance to bring about their objections. They may even reluctantly agree but when we revisit what was discussed, it's as if previous conversations never took place. It wouldn't be so bad if you got a sense that the team was working toward a common goal, but in the end they do more work getting out of work than if they just did the work.

Thanks for letting me vent. I shall endeavour to continue fighting the good fight.




mmcconkie's picture

Good luck fighting the good fight. I know it's hard to manage remote workers. Here is 1 cast that I was able to find on the subject (it is a 2 part series) and I'm sure there are others. It feels like Mark and Mike talk about remote workers every now and again. Hope this helps! Good luck.


mjpeterson's picture


Is there a schedule for the project, and did the remote team members have input into the schedule?  If they have indicated how long it should take to get an answer or deliverable from their department, they are much more likely to work to meet their commitments.  If the timetable was not agreed to, then it is much easier to justify the delays.  

For example, it can take us three to four weeks to send out a package of deliverables due to the multiple reviews required. However, we can do it in less than a week, but this requires someone to babysit the process and make sure the documents does not sit on anyone's desk.  There needs to be a good reasons to expend the additional effort to push things through the system in less than a week, not just because a project manager wants it sooner.  Increasing the speed can increase the cost of those documents by 10 - 20% or more based upon the oversight.  In addition, other work is not getting done that also has deadlines.  Obviously there are times, when that extra cost is well worth it.  But it cannot be the norm of execution.  

Getting buy-in on scheuldule and deliverables at the begining of a project solves many problems.