When I talk with people who prefer to work individually rather than in a group, they often tell me that their preference is based on bad experiences with lazy coworkers. Workplace slackers are not a popular group.
Great teams pull together. When successful, they share the rewards. When they fail, they share the consequences. Most are willing to accept these terms if it seems everyone contributes equally. It is when individual commitment and participation are out of balance that the whole model falls apart. In these situations there are at least three actions I recommend.
- Discuss expectations. As the new team forms, suggest that the group discuss expectations the members have of their coworkers. This is a time when you or someone else can talk about the importance of everyone doing his or her fair share. You can also discuss ideas for how to best make sure that occurs. If the team is already established, this discussion can take the form of a team checkup. Everyone should be offered the chance to voice an opinion about how things are going.
- Talk directly to the person. If someone is not holding up their end of the team, it seems reasonable that you would say something. Tell the person what you notice about the imbalance in contribution. Share how you feel about this and how it impacts you. Invite the person to talk with you about how to create a better situation. Be prepared for the person to say some version of “I don’t see the problem.”
- Keep your hand down. One way people who slack get away with it is that others volunteer for things before they do. The next time the team identifies an action item, keep your hand down. This might be uncomfortable, but that discomfort might be just the thing to help the other person take on more work.
Photo by cell105