I'm a product owner, interested in the project success.

We had a person on the project who didn't bring value once she was on it. Although her role was defined well she didn't show any proactiveness in taking over and managing her area. Although she's very experienced in the role she was given (she worked in the role for several years on other projects), she needed to be told very directly what was needed and even when she was, she mostly tried to get other people do it for her or did the bare minimum and due to time constraints I ended up all the corrections necessary. We had several discussions on that, which brought nothing. She had major delays on her deliverables. Still, from what I hear she was very successful is portraying her "successes on the project" to her bosses. None of the team members was consulted to verify them.

Her involvement was planned to last just several months to increase our capacity and the bottomline of her engagement was negative: a lot of onboarding needed from other team members and very limited added value brought by her.

Now our project scope is to grow strongly again and for some reason the management took the decision to bring her on again assuming that by adding her we will be able to deal with the additional workload. I wasn't consulted.

I will not be able to do her job for her anymore and if other team members do, it will have negative consequences for the future of the project.

How can I signal that without coming across as hostile to her or not a team player?

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    Last time when there were problems with this employee, what was done? Was there any effort at rectifying behaviour? Jul 1, 2021 at 5:39
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    @user4327s6w, Have you consulted your manager ? Does your manager offer any advice one way or another ? Jul 1, 2021 at 5:47
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    It looks like you've raised issues about this employee in the past, which is good. Looks like you just need to reaffirm your concerns. Jul 1, 2021 at 6:05
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    Does the employee report to you? Jul 1, 2021 at 6:06
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    Is management aware you've been correcting her work?
    – BSMP
    Jul 1, 2021 at 6:14

2 Answers 2


Given the history and the current circumstances I think you're left with two, fairly poor, choices. First you could attempt to carry her as you've done previously. This isn't looking good, as you say:

I will not be able to do her job for her anymore and if other team members do, it will have negative consequences for the future of the project.

And of course even if you were able to somehow pull that one out of the bag all you do is set your self up for more pain down the road - like last time her addition to the team will appear to have been successful and you might have the exact same situation next time scope expands, or worse she might become a permanent fixture and you're stuck carrying the extra load ad infinitum.

The alternative is to put the onus on her to do the work she's been brought on to do, don't pick up the slack, don't provide her with any more on-boarding/assistance than you would anyone else in her position. The risk here is obviously is that she doesn't step up and the project starts to suffer, that's not great, but sometimes you have to rip that band-aid off. What you need to be prepared to do from the outset is to cover yourself, document, document, document. Document what work she's been given, document any slips, delays or outright failures. If her tasks are acting as blockers to the project's progress raise this at the time in progress updates. Like she proactive did her own PR last time about how "successful" she was on the project you need to be equally proactive this time around about where any hold ups lie. Don't wait for management to consult you/the team, as shown last time they don't come looking for trouble when they're already getting good news from someone else.

How can I signal that without coming across as hostile to her or not a team player?

By not making anything of this personal - welcome the addition of new resource to your manager, when she comes on point out to her that you're happy to have another person as the team is already at capacity. Yes it might stick in the craw a bit (since clearly you aren't happy that it's her) but by doing this you're not-so-subtly setting the expectation that she's on her own so-to-speak.

Any of those blockers and delays I mention above? It's the task that's blocking progress not a person, if she complains that she needs help on something you think she should be capable of doing herself then stress that the team doesn't have the spare capacity to do it. If she "needs" some of that capacity rather than refuse outright point out any consequences to the team's own tasks of doing that and put it back in your manager's court to decide whether the trade-off is acceptable.

If she continues previous form then it's probably going to be a rough ride - who knows though, faced with the choice to sink or swim she might choose to swim.


You have worked with her before and know what she can do. Don't give her more responsibilities than she can handle. If someone else is going to have to do the work if you assign it to her, you might as well start out by assigning it to them, then ask her to assist them. If she works better by someone giving her very specific tasks to do, then arrange for her to work in that mode instead of pretending like she's going to be able to work independently.

Help team members identify tasks that they can separate from their own work that she can handle. It can be good to have someone who "floats" and is available to help other team members if they encounter an issue. She might actually produce more value backing up other team members than being responsible for her own tasks. Having her work closely with productive team members might improve her ability to get things done on time. This isn't an "assistant" role - she's an experienced team member, and if you treat her like a junior it's going to cause problems. The idea is that she isn't committed to working on a specific task so that she can apply her expertise where it's needed most without having to delay other work.

If she demonstrates that she can handle more responsibility than you've initially given her, then incrementally increase it until she's taking on as much as she can without getting overwhelmed. It's kinder and more effective to lower your expectations when you need to work with someone you have no authority over. It's hard to set aside feelings about how unfair it is that she is perceived by her management as a good worker when she is not actually as productive as others, but that's not something you can change.

Think about her strengths and weaknesses, then arrange her work to give her the best opportunity you can to be successful on your team. If she doesn't take advantage of that opportunity, then limit how much she can hold your team back when she doesn't get her work done.

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