Consider using the three levels of support and resistance as one way to tell if things are about to go off track. (For a fuller description of those three levels, please read my short article, Resistance to Change and Why It Matters.
Level 1 – Do People “Get It” or Not?
Level 1 involves information like objective data on progress. Are you meeting time and budget targets? If not, there could be a good, rational reason for it, or it could be a sign that something is slowing progress.
Level 2 – Do People Like What You are Proposing, or are They Afraid of It?
Look carefully at Level 2 because the signs may be hidden. In many organizations it is very difficult for people to talk about their strong emotional reactions to a change. People probably aren’t going to raise their hands and say, “Boss, this new project scares the crap out of me. I could lose my job! And, at my age, I might never get a new job in my field.” People might worry about their families or even worry that this change will take the organization off in a dangerous direction. But the big problem is, you might never hear these concerns.
Signs that your pet project is about to derail could be what one CEO called malicious compliance. People are doing just enough to stay off your radar.
People may start coming late to planning meetings—and leaving early. They might start sending subs. In one organization, people told me that the project was critical to their company, but for them as individuals, it took them away from the work that was identified in their performance plans.
Level 3 – People Don’t Have Trust and Confidence In You – Or in Who You Represent
This is a big one. Lack of trust in leaders is likely to have a huge impact on Level 2 skepticism and fear. You might ask yourself, “When was the last time people who reported to me actually criticized something I was doing?” If you can’t remember, it could be that you are perfection on a stick, or it might indicate people are afraid to speak candidly in front of you.
I wish you well. By the way, my website has a lot of free resources on ways to build and maintain strong support and forward momentum.