How many times have you heard someone say, “let’s set a deadline for this?”
Deadlines are useful. They ensure that everyone involved knows the drop-dead date when the deliverable must be ready to ship. All involved can then plan and sequence tasks to ensure they hit the deadline.
The problem, however, is when the people we work with are unrealistic about their ability to hit deadlines. One of my biggest pet peeves is staying up late or rearranging my calendar to deliver, only to receive a last-minute email from someone stating that they need an extension.
Just because others “work better with a deadline” doesn’t mean you need to accommodate. Instead of sacrificing your own priorities, sometimes it’s better to make others deliver first before you take action.
Social loafers are the worst. They don’t contribute but they are more than willing to put their name on the final deliverable.
To date, the best advice out there on reducing loafing is to increase individual accountability. This typically takes the form of peer performance ratings. That rarely works. We’re afraid to rate honestly for fear of potential retaliation. Perhaps something more drastic is in order.
What if team placement was determined by individual performance? In academia, I’ve heard rumors of professors putting student teams together by GPA. Fairness issues aside, it seems to work pretty well. Here’s what happens…
The teams with type-A superstars stop complaining about social loafers. They are overjoyed to be on a team full of overachievers.
The teams with lazy social loafers are forced to do something because if they don’t, they won’t have anything to deliver.
The teams with moderate performers tend to go-with-the-flow, enjoy the experience, and put together something that is pretty good, but not amazing.
Problem solved? Probably not. Teams are typically put together based on functional needs. But perhaps there’s a way to tease out social loafing on the front end - through team placement. If you want to work with the best, you’ve got to earn it.
Get the blog posts delivered through the semi-monthly newsletter