Strictly Recruitment By: Strictly Recruitment -

Difficult Conversations

How to Work with a Team Member Who is Not Pulling their Weight


We’ve all experienced it – the dreaded slopey shoulders. This is when a teammate or colleague just doesn’t quite pull their weight in a group project, leaving those around them feeling unprepared and suffocated by looming deadlines.

It can be difficult to manage these situations, but they can be managed with proper communication and understanding. No one likes having difficult conversations. It can be uncomfortable, and often it feels like no matter how you approach the topic, the result will be negative. But when it comes to working with colleagues, sometimes a difficult conversation is necessary in order to get everyone back on track and working together productively. So how do you have that conversation without making the other person feel attacked?


Acknowledge the Problem and Offer Solutions

If you are working on a project with a teammate who isn’t carrying their share of the load, it might be hard to bring up the issue without sounding overly critical or judgmental. Before taking any action, take time to understand why your team member might not be delivering what is expected of them. Maybe they have taken on too much work and need help prioritizing their tasks? Do they need more resources or training? Are there any underlying issues that you can help them with?

Once you understand the problem, it’s time to communicate your concerns to your team member in an effective way. Make sure to use language that expresses support and empathy rather than criticism or blame. Ask if there are any potential solutions they might have. This can open up more productive dialogue about solutions and what changes could be made to make it easier for them (and others) in the team to work at their best. It’s important not to jump into solutions right away; instead, focus on finding out what the root cause of the problem is so that you can come up with a plan together.

Be Specific About Your Concerns

When bringing up an issue, be sure to provide specific examples of why this has become a problem for the team as a whole. This will help demonstrate why this conversation needs to take place rather than just pointing fingers at one individual or blaming them for everything that isn’t going right.

Listen Carefully

Take time during the conversation to really listen and understand where your team member is coming from and what difficulties they may be facing that are contributing to their lack of work performance or contribution levels. Ask thoughtful questions so you can gain insight into how they are feeling—this can help ensure that everyone involved has their say before making any decisions or taking action on resolving the issue at hand.

Make Sure Everyone Agrees on Expectations

Once you’ve discussed any potential solutions or changes that need to be made, make sure everyone agrees on what those expectations are before ending the conversation so there isn’t any confusion moving forward with regards to roles and responsibilities within the team dynamic as well as individual expectations of each person involved in completing tasks or projects together successfully as a group effort.

Finally, it’s important to maintain open lines of communication throughout the entire project. Regular check-ins will ensure that everyone involved is on track and accountable for their part of the project. Be clear about expectations and deadlines early on so that everyone knows what needs to be done and by when. This will prevent any last minute surprises or confusion down the line!

Slopey shoulders can cause major headaches if not managed correctly from the start but don’t despair – there are ways to handle these tricky situations! Start by understanding why your teammate may not be pulling their weight then take steps towards communicating your concerns in a supportive manner while maintaining open lines of communication throughout the entire process. With patience and diligence, slopey shoulders become manageable – no matter how daunting it may seem at first! Rest easy knowing this situation does have an answer! #teamworkmakesthedreamwork #communicationskillsmatter #slopeyshoulderssolutionfound!


Blog by Meg Steinschauer at Connected Assistants, 27 Feb 2023