I’m part of a project team and one person in particular does not carry his load. Fun guy, but doesn’t follow through. The way our system is structured, our team is accountable to one another without any direct supervision. Rumblings amongst the team are common, but no one is willing to step up and deal with the situation. As a team we’re pretty clear on deadlines and expectations, but when this guy falls short he always has an excuse, and the rest of us either have to step in or the entire project will run behind schedule. After attending one of your programs, I know that we need to speak the truth before we get too angry and speak our minds. What do you suggest?
– Ticked Off in Cubicleville
Dear Ticked Off in Cubicleville,
I’m dating myself, but after reading your email, I’m flashing back to Donnie Osmond’s song, “One bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch, girl!” Truth is, all it takes is one bad apple to leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth and make for a frustrating work environment. Given the structure of your team, I believe it’s time for a workplace intervention.
First, an intervention requires everyone agrees a problem exists that needs immediate attention. Independently ask members of your team if they choose to address the issue as a group. If you don’t have a majority consensus, then you’ll need to decide if this is something you personally want to take on directly with your colleague. If that happens, you need to discuss how his actions (sticking with the facts, not opinions) affect your work outcomes. Do not discuss how others are impacted, only you. Ask for what you need to be successful in order to complete your work.
If the team decides it’s time to speak up, revisit expectations and future consequences for all team members moving forward. In other words, if someone doesn’t complete their goals, what happens? Does the team push back the deadline? Does the individual who fell short work overtime to finish?
During the actual “intervention”, consider using my DEAL™ method which provides a framework for a healthy conversation. Decide in advance who will deliver the information and who will provide back-up support and clear examples should he give you push-back. Most likely he will feel ganged up on, so address this from the beginning. “(Name), we like working with you because you are very pleasant and funny. There’s also a situation we would like to address so we can continue to be effective as a team.” Then, DEAL™.