Team Participation and Performance

If it appears a team member is not participating or performing up to the team's expectations, it is the leader's role to investigate possible reasons. It's in everyone's best interest to address the issue right away and with respect, openness, and honesty.

Establish an Expectation of Participation

When the team starts, talk about expectations for participation up front. Set ground rules for team activities. Discuss expectations of team members.

Do a Reality Check

Before deciding to engage in a discussion about performance and team participation, ask yourself these questions:

  • In what specific ways is this team member not meeting the agreed upon expectations?
  • Am I viewing the situation realistically and objectively?
  • Is it worth my time and attention?
  • Am I justified (be specific about why)? Am I being fair to this individual? Am I being fair to the team?
  • Do I feel safe in addressing the issue?
  • Do I have an effective approach?
  • Am I thinking in terms of cooperation, understanding, and problem-solving?
  • How might the other person respond?
  • Am I supported? Do I need assistance? Who can I ask for help?

Have a Conversation with the Team Member

After honestly answering the questions above, if you are ready to proceed with a one-to-one conversation, follow these steps during the conversation:

  • Describe the behavior(s) concerning you.
  • Describe the impact or effects of the behavior(s) on the team and on the project's goals.
  • Ask the team member for their response, do they agree or disagree? Why?
  • Agree upon a course of action:
  • Stay on the team. Discuss how behavior(s) should change, redefine expectations and establish consequences.
  • Leave the team. Discuss a graceful exit strategy.

General Tips

  • Address issues early; don't let the problem build. It's not fair to you, the individual, or the team.
  • Be specific with your examples.
  • Be honest with yourself about the impacts of the behavior(s); is this your personal standard or a need of the team?
  • Be open to different work styles and approaches. Listen carefully to the team member; try to understand their point of view.
  • Keep the goals of the project in mind; stay focused on the big picture.
  • Distinguish between your observations (facts) and reactions (personal response to a fact).
  • Show your support to the individual.