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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

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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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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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Pulling less weight is entirely subjective. First, he may be doing more than you think (there are other things besides code check-in that contribute to a project). Next he may be less skilled and thus have lower expectations from management and be assigned to those crappy tasks nobody else wants to do but still need to be done. Third why do you care if he gets credit if he worked on the project too? It is none of your business. Fourth maybe no one has the time to mentor him in the middle of meeting a tight deadline. Fifth, he may have something else that is causing him to be delayed in what he is doing that is outside of his control.

Or he may be doing less due to a personal problem (like say a cancer diagnosis) and less repsponsibility is something worked out with the manager which would likely remain confidential and you would not be told.

Nor are you aware necessarily of what management may be doing to improve his performance if there is a real performance problem. It takes time to get rid of someone and in a crunch management may make the choice that the small contribution is better than the no contribution they would get if they fired the guy because they couldn't get someone new in to replace him in time.

Of course, management may love him because he is taking the credit for what other people do because he is competent at office politics and the rest of the team is not.

Or maybe he is there for a reason you can't get past like being the son of the CEO's college roommate. People like that know they don't have to pull their weight and why shoudl they waste the energy?

So what do you do? First if there is a genuine performance problem, you need to bring it up sooner rather than later. If his slowness or inability to produce is causing delays for others, then bring up the delay (not his performance specifically) and ask management to get him some help so that your work is not affected. You say managemnt doesn't know he is not pulling his weight. Well why don't they know? Did you and your team mates forget to mention the problems he is causing? If he is not causing any problems or delays why do you care that he only produced one module for the the ten you did.

If the problem is that he doesn't work the same crazy hours you work, then examine just why you think you have to work those hours.

If the problem is that you just don't like him, the problem could be your attitude. Does he have trouble getting cooperation from others on the team?

And what have you done to try to help him improve? Have you mentored him? Have you even asked him if he needs help or what the problem is? Have you suggested things like code review for everyone as a way to get his skills up to snuff? If management sits in on these code reviews and everyone else does well and his stuff always fails, they wil realizxe soon enough how poorly he is performing. If you point out the problems with his code then he can learn better constructs and imporve his performance. And if it doesn't get better that too will become obvious to everyone and steps to get rid of him can be taken.

And as for the political side, people can't take credit for your work when you already have. No one in the work world can afford to not understand or play office politics. You are in the game whether you want to be or not and not trying to play gives the creeps an easy target for the credit grabbing game. Why would you want to give an easy win to a snake? And if the politics dictate he will be there no matter what, then make friends with the guy and get him to push for you instead of being his enemy.

And if he is just too lazy to do his job, then a few pointed remarks where a manager can hear about checking Facebook or playing games while such and such is already late can work wonders. Peer pressure often will keep these people in line and if it doesn't, then ask management directly to get rid of him after you have proof that he is is not pulling his weight.

Someone who won't improve after code reviews and peer pressure and being talked to directly and having his delays aired in meetings is someone who can't be fixed and needs to go. But sometimes management won't hear that until the most respected memeber of the team points out the morale issue of keeping such a person. Because managers are people too and it isn't fun to fire people. But finding out that your other team members are negatively affected especially to the point of leaving can be the deal breaker. If someone is leaving, ask them to mention the problem in their exit interview.

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