What If A Team Member Doesn’t Want To Do A Good Job?

I spoke at #agileinthecity this week on Punishment Driven Development and I was asked an interesting question.

“What if a team member doesn’t want to do a good job?”

Should we punish someone who just isn’t trying?  Should we let them know that their behaviour is unacceptable?  Should we start hard performance management?

It’s my belief that the vast majority of people want to do a good job.  I’ve never turned up intending to do a bad day’s work and I assume that other people are similar.  So if there’s a member of a team who isn’t motivated and doesn’t respond to peer pressure then my first question isn’t around what sort of punishment is needed but rather around why they don’t want to do a good job.  Why aren’t they motivated?  Have they been over-managed?  Are they feeling disrespected?  Is there something major happening outside of work which means that they can’t concentrate?  Are they unhappy about their performance review?  Do they feel that they work hard but get no recognition?  Do they not have the knowledge or skills that they need to do their work?

I would rather assume good intentions and deal with any exceptions.  To me, respect is one of the most important things in the workplace, and everything else flows from that.

6 thoughts on “What If A Team Member Doesn’t Want To Do A Good Job?

  1. i believe he should get a notification and help offered at first. If he keeps burdening the team he needs to be removed cause team is not charity organization.


    1. What if the problem isn’t with the team member but actually with the team? What if the rest of the team are really similar, like the same sort of music and enjoy cycling for example? This team member might be the odd one out and none of the team might like them. Does that mean that the odd one out needs fixing or that the team does?


      1. I used to. He was always the first to point out all the reasons why my plan wouldn’t work, passive agressiveness, not honoring deadlines…i severed my partnership and was amazed by the time and space that freed to pursue new healthier members. If you want my advice, that is: don’t compromise your standards!


      2. I guess my first port of call would have been to try to understand the cause of the passive agressiveness. Did he feel that he wasn’t respected? Did he feel that he was over managed? Did he feel that he knew better and had to put up with things other people came up with? Again around honering deadlines – did he only ever get told the deadlines verbally (some people don’t feel that a verbal agreement is real in the way seeing it in writing is)? Did he get to say when he could get it done for or was a deadline always imposed on him (very different level of commitment)? Did he undersand what was important about the deadline?

        In no way am I saying that you shouldn’t have cut your ties with him or that your approach wasn’t the best one (indeed I’ve had to cut my ties with a business partner in the past for the sake of my own mental health). I guess I’m intrinsicly interested in why people behave in these ways and in the vast majority of cases once I work out why it’s amazing how different things are.


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About IvanaTheTerrorBull

Techie skater and agile craftswoman with a passion for learning @IvanaTerrorBull