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I've been in a couple situations where a member of the group pulls a lot less weight than the rest of us. Usually the manager doesn't realize. However after seeing people like that get credit for something they did very little of, it's hard not to act on it.

Should you approach the person first (is it possible they don't know they aren't doing anything)? Would it be considered childish to tell a manager you don't think the person is performing at par with the team?

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You don't indicate whether you feel that this team member could do better: in other words are they lacking in work ethic, or competence? –  Benjol Apr 11 '12 at 11:59
You need to make the weight-pulling measurable. –  Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Sep 23 '13 at 10:53

2 Answers 2

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Bear in mind that the manager may well know exactly what's going on. Just because you don't see what's happening doesn't mean nothing is happening.

What I'm saying is that just because the person wasn't fired yesterday doesn't mean your boss doesn't know what's going on. Maybe the guy is on a Performance Improvement Plan. Maybe they're trying to ease him out or into another position. But don't assume that because you can't see action, nothing is happening

Does your review process not include getting feedback from peers? If everyone shares your opinion, this will come out. It just might take longer than you'd like.

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Getting feedback from peers in the review process seems to be dependent on organizational culture. In 25+ years in companies that are rather conservative, I can't recall once having peer feedback as part of a review. –  GreenMatt Nov 23 '12 at 22:34

Without more details it's hard to say whether the person could be unaware that they're under-performing, but in my experience it is always better to bring a problem to a person directly and give them a chance to fix it themselves than to go over their head right away.

Is there some objective way to measure the amount of work everyone on the team is doing, say a number of [x discrete products] completed per week? If so, I would suggest approaching them as non-confrontationally as possible, noting that their production is significantly behind other members of the team--using concrete numbers rather than a blanket 'you don't work enough'--and asking if there's something you/the other team members could do to help get them up to snuff. It's possible they need more training or aren't aware that they're that many orders of magnitude behind everyone else and just need to put in a bit more effort.

That said, if the person isn't receptive to constructive criticism and is genuinely a drag on the rest of the group, there's nothing childish about making sure that's known. Just make sure everything is above-board, that when you bring this to your boss you keep your criticism as a professional and not personal issue, and that the person in question has had ample chance to rectify their behavior first.

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