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team member refuses to carry load

By Matthew B ·
I have an interesting dilemma.

I am currently in my final year of high school, and hoping to enter software engineering at a reputable school.

My final year computer science course requires me to produce a high quality game. The technical details are fine, and a group is in place. Unfortunately the group cannot be changed and a significant member has turned out to be a bad apple. He has been given the task of creating the background images, but he refuses to even begin work. The project is due in approximately four weeks and the task is tremendous. I, being the group leader, am responsible for making sure all the work gets done, as well as coding the entire application. It is not a simple task, as this is my first initiation with DirectX, and I could not possibly manage to take on the extra load of preparing the graphics for the game. The other group members lack the skills in order to produce aesthetically pleasing graphics.

Please provide me advice, based on your professional experience, as to how I can, in a seemingly powerless situation, coax an obnoxious and unwilling group member into doing his work.

Thanks in advance,

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There is a Third Way.

by mmark1 In reply to team member refuses to ca ...

Talk to your Guidance Counselor. Tell him that you were put in a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation. Tell him that you were inadvertently bullied by a fellow student with suppport from the school by not the school not allowing a change in the group when oa person in the group refuses to work. Then, ask for a change in partner. If the Guidance Counselor says no, remind him that in your opinion supporting emotional harrassment for control is against the Law. Then,ask again for a new partner. You have nothing to lose.

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Only one thing to do:

by bklein In reply to There is a Third Way.
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humour always helps

by Matthew B In reply to Only one thing to do:

thanks, a sense of humour is wonderful to have in any situation

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Assign responsibility

by jerry.wente In reply to Only one thing to do:

Develop an action plan which states who will do what by when. Have everyone on the team sign it. This person will probably either refuse to sign it (something to present to your boss) or he will bury himself by signing it. At least he will not carry the entire team down with him.

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here's to hoping it doesn't get that bad

by Matthew B In reply to There is a Third Way.

I am hoping that the situation can rectify itself without requiring the interference of a Guidance Couselor, but thank you very much for providing me an option if things don't get fixed with the gentler options.

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What to do indeed...

by msamson In reply to team member refuses to ca ...

If you really need to carry the weight of this individual because he/she refuses to do the work, there is only one way to do it... Have a meeting with everyone involved in the project and confront this individual and demand to know why he/she won't do the work. Once that is cleared up and you have a valid awnser, either of two things will follow... you a) persuade as a group this person to do the work for the good of the group or b)yes, do all the work with the other participants. Make sure that you remove this individual completely from the developement process and document the action you have taken and the reasons why... Have these documents signed by all the group members to ackownledge that this individual has not fulfilled his part ofthe bargain. If possible, tape the meetings you have with this individual to make sure you're backed up.

Don't let one individual ruin the group... get him out or at least out of your way... yes, you'll probably end-up doing more work... This will be true during the whole of your IT career...

Good Luck!!


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by Matthew B In reply to What to do indeed...

The group has agreed that if this fellow cannot do his work we will all have to compensate for his inabilities.

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Peer Pressure

by Rick Freedman In reply to team member refuses to ca ...


This is a dilemma that every project manager faces throughout his career. I've rarely been on a project that didn't have a team member that either wouldn't contribute, didn't have the skills he claimed to have, or was too egotistical or immature to be a team player. This is a sticky situation with no easy answer, but the best approach I've found is to use the combined pressure of the team to either get the reluctant teammate to pull his weight or get out of the way. Don't take this problem on as a lone ranger, involve the entire team - it's much easier for the non-contributor to laugh off an individual than the team. Brief your other teammates on the problem, hear them out on their suggestions, and then come together with the non-contributor and come to a solution. Don't make it a confrontation - make it a working session to solve a problem as a team. If no solution can be reached, figure out a workaround as a team and dive in.

Don't discount the possibility that you, theteam, or the assignment mat be the problem - go into this problem solving session with an open mind, and be prepared to learn as much about yourself as you learn about the non-contributor. Take the emotion out of the situation, and bring your maturity and willingness to see all sides. Immature and obnoxious individuals usually have an internal justification for their actions - they're not just trying to rock your world. If in the end no compromise is possible focus on the end result and deliverthe best result possible under the circumstances.

Best of luck.

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this idea seems to working...

by Matthew B In reply to Peer Pressure

I will not be foolish to predict that all things will be fine now, but things seem to be looking up. To be honest, I didn't go in with a brave face and command a meeting. It just happens that the other group members were willing to work with me tosolve the problem. Together with the disgruntled fellow we discussed the size of the task at hand, and without pointing fingers we discussed the fact that we were quickly falling behind. Normally this character responds very rudely to any query ofmine regarding his progress, but I believe that a mixture of pressure from the group and an understanding that none of us were out to challenge his abilities, helped him to open up and acknowledge that he needed to be pulling his weight.

His attitude has changed, he is now willing to give us a timeline. We have seen nothing so far, as today was the day that we talked, but I will look upon our situation with guarded optimism.

Thank you very much for your words of wisdom, and please cross your fingers with me, in hopes that the best turns out.

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Always retain "Plan B"

by jej1962 In reply to this idea seems to workin ...

You don't need to mention it out loud to anyone, but always have a plan B in mind.

The road to **** (as they say) is paved with good intentions. Your team member may have come around, but if he has not, then you must still be prepared to do his work for him.

Plan B would include giving everyone assignments to share his workload (including yourself), and also that letter mentioned in one of the other posts regarding the fact that the team member did nothing (with sign-offs by the other participants).

This situation occurs quite a bit in the world, and you'll find that as a project manager, you'll end up doing much more of the work, and sometimes without the assistance of a full team. However, as project manager, that's why you get paid more. <G>

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