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When Teammates Don’t Pull Their Weight

If it’s been said one time it’s been said a myriad of times: my colleague isn’t pulling his/her weight.

The problem is if this is the perceived reality, it is usually thought privately by one of more employees and may even be discussed within small groups, but it is rarely articulated to leadership.

The growing frustration of high performing employees eventually leads to an overwhelming feeling of helplessness, which almost always leads to turn over.

It’s not the ones slacking off that leave, it’s the ones that are covering the extra work.

This leaves the team handicapped with fewer positions filled by lower producing employees.

Without proactive actions leadership allows for these unnecessary trials.

Specifically, authentic leaders proactively work to prevent this scenario by focusing on strategies to hold employees accountable and provide an environment where slacking can be prevented and exposed through the following early warning system:

  1. Environment of accountability

  2. Safe outlet

Environment of Accountability

It is imperative for leadership to articulate expectations often and face-to-face (the personal part is key). This can be accomplished through two helpful tools: brief weekly one-on-one meetings and consistent team meetings.

The one-on-one meeting is the employee’s dedicated time in your busy calendar in which they can ask questions, receive feedback, and express ideas or concerns privately. This way the supervisor is more likely to pick up on flat sides and address them without depending on others to bring them to light. Ultimately, this builds trust and a foundational relationship.

The second way is to have brief team meetings often and consistently. This supports a sense of team trust and comfort, which naturally leads to more secure relationships. A secure team feels safe bringing up issues in front of and with colleagues. This allows for team growth by working through issues together.

Safe Outlet

It is imperative that leadership create an environment where employees feel confident to share when they perceive a teammate is not pulling with the rest of the team. This will only happen if the employee feels safe sharing this information with their supervisor and knows follow up will happen without retaliation.

Ways to help employees feel safe is to be as balanced as possible. Meaning, taking comments seriously, digging deeper to get all sides of the story, and then circling back with follow through.

When these situations arise, it must be addressed immediately before the slacking perception is so engrained that it may be irreparably ingrained in the team psyche.

Authentic leaders are with their team as often as possible to ensure their team works and stays together.


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