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  • Writer's pictureAnna Conrad

How to Deal with an Incompetent Team Member

Although it may not feel like it at the moment, when a colleague or direct report doesn't follow through on a task or promise, it's rarely intentional. More often, it results from an underlying issue, such as unclear responsibilities or unrealistic goals.

Here are ways to identify what's happening — and fix it:

  1. Check to see if you're part of the problem. Ask yourself what role you have in work not getting done and determine if you can do differently. Are the expectations clear? Have you communicated responsibilities? Are you sure they understand the responsibilities?

  2. Ask the individual for their perspective. If the person constantly misses deadlines, you could say, "I've noticed that lately you need more time to get work done." Give specific examples.

  3. Offer support. Ask, "How can I help you get back on track?" or, “What can I do to support you?” If the person feels psychologically safe, they'll work with you to solve the problem.

  4. Work together to set realistic expectations, and develop a plan to move forward. Together, decide on how to measure progress so the problem doesn't happen again.


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