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Got a Loafer on Your Team or Committee?

Is someone not pulling their weight yet expecting to enjoy the fruits of your group’s hard work?  Here are five tips to prevent freeloading.  Avoid the unattractive, energy-sucking role of the nag.  Instead increase the chances of bringing out the best talents and temperament in everyone. That makes work more productive and life more fun.

1.    Meet in person at least once
Face-to-face meetings are more likely to build relationships than meeting virtually, by phone or online.  After making a connection in person we are inclined to bond with the group and want to follow through.

2.    Establish rules of engagement
As a group create ground rules that involve rewards and penalties.  If, for example, someone doesn’t meet a deadline and doesn’t explain in advance, offering an alternative to make up for the loss, will the group drop that person?

3.    Agree on a few vital commitments
As a group, prioritize top goals and tasks.  Rather than agreeing to many assignments, settle on a few that are important to each member.  Success begets more success – and group esprit de corps.  Over-committing then missing goals makes one feel guilty and avoid teammates. It brings down the whole team.

4.    Create a visible task tracking system
Create a way that all committee members must record their progress on a task and view others’ progress. Such transparency affects each member’s reputation with others on the team.  The most successful self-managed teams have a specific top goal and a  short, prioritized list of concretely-described tasks – each with a lead person and timetable. All these elements are easily viewable by all members.

5.    Provide an automatic reminder system
Create a way that members receive reminders for key deadlines, perhaps by email. This system may also include notification when other team members have completed tasks or provided information that’s needed for a member to take the next step.

This is my lightly-adapted version of Ken Thompson’s tips for “stopping team freeriding.”  As the author of Bioteams and an expert on team dynamics and virtual collaboration Thompson has a treasure trove of  Me2We tips including two of my favorites, Five tips for a perfect meeting and The seven beliefs of high performing teams.  Hear Ken’s interview and discover more about the power of self-organizing (Peer2Peer) groups.

Categories: Peer2Peer, Self-Led, Team and tagged , , , , , , , .
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2 Comments

  1. Melinda
    Posted July 26, 2008 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    These would be a great guidelines for teachers to share, when establishing student group projects. The idea behind student group projects is to enable students to gain real-life skills at working as a team. Strangely, it is very rare to give tools, such as these, to learn how to make it a successful experience.

  2. Posted July 27, 2008 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    Yes Melinda, and yet few ‘adult” meetings have rules of engagement, etc……so might as well start learning it earlier since group work is on th increase, especially among people from different orgs. and even parts of the world.

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