How to cope with ineffective colleagues

Aha! Just what you’ve been waiting for right? You have this colleagues that just makes you want to go insane. You constantly worry about the team’s output and how this one colleague just seems to dampen it for everyone, right? You have all been on the same training but this one just refuses to get better, right? What to do. What to do. This is a question a friend asked me a few days back – she actually requested I write a piece on it for our Church’s Newsletter. So I thought why not turn it into another post for HSEWise.

So here is my thought on how to deal with ineffective people. How do you define Ineffective though? An Ineffective person, to me, is someone who never does their work, is persistently late and nonchallant about their job. If this is what you are facing then you need to speak to HR or the person responsible for their employment about the troubles you are having. Sometimes getting fired is what’s best for them.

1. People are different

Don’t pray they get the sack just yet. Everyone is different. Attention span is different so is our learning styles and abilities. What seems easy to you might look like rocket science to another. Why I say this is because everyday I watch teachers teach at the school I run. I notice how quickly some of the students understand and how quickly they write. I also notice how you have to go over something again and again for some to just get it. They do eventually get it but after the teacher must have used a different teaching method and resource. I won’t call them slow learners, I will just say they have a learning style or styles that is different from that which their other colleagues have. Teachers tend to teach the way they like to learn forgetting that their learners might not like it that same way. The same goes for that employee you think is ineffective.

Have you tried to show them how to perform that task in a different and possibly simpler way? Do you let them get on with their work without so much interference from you? Sometimes people lose their bearing when they know they are being watched. Give them space and only do regular checks just to be sure they are on the right track.

2. People tend to work at a pace they find comfortable

One who takes his time to do their work isn’t ineffective – it took me a while to realise this. My ex-admin staff was very quiet and in my opinion slow when I needed her to be fast but by the end of the day, she would have completed her job which will make me wonder why I was so bothered by her pace anyway. She knew what she was doing and she did it efficiently and always produced result. Why rush the job and make annoying mistakes?

Do you think your colleague is slow that’s why you have labelled them as ineffective? Then take a step back and let them get on with their work. They just might surprise you.

3. Help them manage their time

Time management is rocket science for some especially in Africa. Tell a Nigerian your party starts at 12noon – be sure they will be there at 4pm when things are about to end lol. Tell your “ineffective” colleague you need a report by 4pm TODAY and there is the likelihood they will submit it by 6pm THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW. Sure that’s ineffectiveness but there is something you can do about it.

You need it by 4pm TODAY? Tell them you need it by 4pm the day before you really need it but tell them days in advance and be sure to show them how urgent it is and keep track of it on a regular basis till you get what you want.

It’s not called telling lies, it’s called saving yourself stress and helping them “indirectly” become a little bit effective.

Some need constant reminders to get something done. Regularly ask in a nice way if they have completed a certain task. Advice them to have a note with them that records everything they need to do and they can just tick off as they complete it. They need to check this book regularly to see what’s waiting to be done. If they are serious about getting their work then, they will do everything they can to make sure all the boxes are ticked off.

4. Some people will never change

Now unto the ones who try to get it done but kinda keep failing. They simply do not understand the role and what it takes to succeed at it. Some simply can’t be bothered to get it right. They are just there to get paid. I have met this kind and I got rid of them real fast.

You have tried all and said all you can, but yet some people will just never change. If their mind is made up, no amount of talk or training will change their attitude to work. This set of people deserve to be sacked! If you are the boss, save yourself further headache and sack them. If you are not the boss, then talk to the boss hopefully boss will get the message and sack them. If they don’t get sacked, then you will have to keep working with them but doing majority of the work simply to make you effective and not annoy your boss. Good luck.

Do you have”ineffective” people you feel forced to work with? How do you cope? What have you done to help them? Share your experience by leaving a comment.