What to Do When a Team Member isn’t Pulling Their Weight

No one likes to pick their colleague’s slack, especially of someone who takes long lunch breaks, scrolls Instagram all day, unashamedly misses their deadline and doesn’t give their cent percent to a project.

As a matter of fact, ninety-three percent of people who work on a team do so with at least one person who doesn’t do his or her share of the work.

Now if your job is suffering because of you coworker’s behaviour, then what should be the best course of action? Let’s find out.

Opt to Converse Rather Than Confront

When this becomes a common occurrence and your work is affected by your coworker’s behaviour, it is time to speak up without adopting an accusatory tone. Also, if you’re not the boss, then blatantly telling a colleague to get to work isn’t advised.

In such a scenario, you could directly tell the person that their missed deadline put a client’s deal in jeopardy, or that their early departures led you to work overtime at the office. Make sure you keep the dialogue positive and forward-looking.

Use statements like “I’m worried if we don’t send out these emails in time, we would lose customers.” Strategically communicate so your comments feel less confrontational and more “I need you, how can we fix this together?” This direct approach is likely to do the trick.

Put Yourself in Their Shoes

Working with a colleague who isn’t giving his all can be exasperating. However, rather than losing your cool and making snap judgments it is important to get to the root cause. Slacking doesn’t always denote laziness. The person may just be stuck on an idea, confused about a project, or simply overwhelmed by excessive workload. They might also be facing issues at home or struggling to learn a new skill set.

If you find your coworker staring at their computer all day and not doing anything substantial, it is always a good idea to professionally offer your help. Find out how you can help take some weight off their shoulders. This doesn’t mean that you do their work for them. You could just share productivity hacks, lend an ear or offer guidance and feedback. Offering this sort of assistance could be all they need to open up and get back on track.

Recognise What Motivates Them

According to the New York Times bestseller Gretchen Rubin, people respond to rules in four different ways and fall into one of these personality types:

  • The Upholder is someone who “accepts rules, whether from outside or inside.” They tend to they react well to schedules and to-do-lists.
  • The Questioner, as the name implies, “questions rules and accepts them only if they make sense. They may choose to follow the rules, or not, according to their judgment.” This person wakes up thinking, “What needs to get done today?”
  • The Rebel is an individual who “flouts rules, from outside or inside. They resist control.” This person wakes up in the morning thinking, “What do I want to do today?”
  • The Obliger is a person who “accepts outside rules, but doesn’t like to adopt self-imposed rules.” As the name implies, they’re focused on what is expected of them.

Before you approach a person, you need to understand what kind of individual you are dealing with. If your colleague, for instance, is a “rebel”, micromanaging or issuing orders won’t be effective. If you’re dealing with a “Questioner,” you could give them a solid reason why their contribution is needed. The way you phrase a request can actually make all the difference.

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Author: Paul Keijzer

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