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Question:

"How would you deal with a situation where a team member is not pulling his or her weight and it is hurting the team’s performance.” 

Student Responses:

1. First, I would assume there is a legitimate reason that they are not participating. Often it could be because they don't’ feel confident about their abilities or because there is a problem in their personal life. In these situations, they may be receptive to talking about the situation directly. If this isn’t the case, it can often work to schedule trying to work together. Simply being present many make them feel compelled to participate.

2. I would confront the person in a private setting and ask if they need help, or if they don’t understand something, and explain that they are hurting the team’s performance. If poor performance continues, confront them again, or present the situation to an upper manager.

3. I would not address the issue in a group. Instead, address the individual. Give them one more opportunity to pull their weight. Then, if that doesn’t work, you would have to cut their position in the company. The supervisor or manager would have to inform the corporation that the position is terminated.

4. I would figure out what is going on in the coworker’s life — see if there is anything you can do to help. If it goes on for too long, then talk to the manager.

5. I would communicate with the co-worker to see how I can help and find out what is wrong. If that fails, I would talk to the manager.

6. I would approach the person individually to talk. Then, I would gather the group and talk to the person. Finally, I would report the issue to management.

Hiring Hero - Jim Fay Responds:

Interesting question because this actually happened on a major design project. I dealt with it by confronting the team member who was not pulling his weight, gently and with kindness, but also firmly. His performance improved. But, I realized this might not have happened if we had clearly shared performance and responsibility expectations before the project started and if we had set better milestones to keep team members on track. So, on a later project in a different class, we spent time sharing performance and responsibility expectations before starting. We also set up frequent milestones to help each other stay on track. The results were super and we all felt better about the project.

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