I am working as Technical Team Lead for web application development Team. I have been there in the team since from 2 years. I have a team member who is performing below the mark, let us say his name is Mohan. Few positives about him are below

  • He joined 4 months before me.
  • His basic strength is professional etiquette and interpersonal skills. He is best in the team in these areas.
  • With these strengths he has very good reputation with in managers and other devleads community.
  • He is technically sufficient skills and potential to take up and execute any assignment.

However the below attributes the one which I don’t feel healthy

  • My major concern is he is contributing below mark and his deliverables are less in quality and have more defects.
  • He accepts the work and gives one dead line. When I review at the time of dead line he says the he is lagging so and so reason by ‘x' ammount. But he actually lagging 'x+y’ amount.
  • On daily basis for some amount of time he is unavailable at his desk. That means he is spending less hours than every one else.
  • There are many defects in his work and many regressions when he fix bugs too.
  • At the same time when the defect becomes very critical and show stopper and it is in limelight, he solves it with perfect quality and with in less than the specified time. And every one applauds.
  • But if the defect is not show stopper/critical the quality suffers. All his skills he uses to convince others and manage stake holder and do minimally required it.
  • Because he is constantly lagging dead lines, the slip over items are falling on other team members and other team members are often overloaded.
  • I heard complaints about him with in dev community as well.

I have set up an one on one meeting with him and talked with him about other devs complaints, how others are over loaded and requested him contribute. Meeting went very good and he accepted and agreed with me. But the result seems to be he fixed symptoms and not the root cause. I didn’t hear complaints any more. But there is no change in his behavior. He helped other team members to take up some of the things on the things which are in high lime light, But at the same time he ditched some of the important items which are not in lime light and which slips the dead lines again. I tried to bring this topic with manager, but I realized he doesn’t pay much attention to it, and doesn’t seem as much problem. More over I sense that it makes my leadership skills in question. Hence I didn’t prolong the discussion on this topic.

Finally, I am getting an impression that he just want to manage his reputation and image and make sure he is safe zone. But not much interested to contribute to the project success.

How can I motivate him to contribute more and deliver better quality work?

  • Who is in charge?
    – user8365
    Commented Nov 2, 2015 at 15:41

2 Answers 2


There is a saying that a good manager is like a good coach. He needs to be able to adapt to his employees and offer them the motivation that they need. This developer seems to be very focused on the social aspects of work – have you tried discussing the social implications of these bugs? "The QA team needed to stay late because you didn't do X" might be far better than saying, "We lost $90,000 because you didn't do Y!"

Personally, I also view my job as a manager as intricately related to the process of getting people what they want and what they need. That means your question becomes: "What do you want?"

Now, it is also important that you document and discuss with his actual manager.

You say that he is consistently late, is your company consistently late? Can you show that his lateness is endemic and not occasional? Can you track the number of hours which have been spent on regressions related to his efforts?

Most people have a bad sense of the evolving nature around them. "He's late a lot" is a much different statement from "He's late by 3 days on every project where the median rate is only 1 day". Saying, "he creates bugs in his code" is much different from saying, "His bugs cost X hours on average."

As to the questions about "being away from desk", many people have very different work styles. My company knows that one of the things I like to do a lot is pace the halls and strike up conversations. I still get work done, but I use the social interaction to help offset and clear my head so that I don't get monitor/code fatigue.


You are dealing with personality here. Everybody has a nature. A tiger has tiger nature. An cow has the nature of a cow. You have to accept the cards you are dealt and make the best use of them. With people you can fix small things, but changing someone's personality in fundamental ways is not possible. A lot of people will tell you different, and encourage you to put pressure on someone to change themselves. My experience is that doing that does not result in change, but just makes everybody more unhappy.

The right strategy is to make the best use you can of each person and combine them to make chemistry. So, for example, in your case, maybe try to find someone who is plodding and methodical and pair them up with Mohan; Mohan does the flashy stuff, and when he skips over stuff, the boring guy does those other things.

  • "The boring guys" have their limits too, you know...They also need some interesting stuff to do from time to time and they don't like "flashy" colleagues the most.
    – Amberta
    Commented Nov 2, 2015 at 8:36
  • @LaMi You are reading too much into my example. The point is that he should find some kind of chemistry with the existing employees to solve the problem, whatever the chemistry happens to be. I just gave one possible example.
    – Socrates
    Commented Nov 2, 2015 at 8:38
  • Sorry, didn't mean to be rude. Came to mind the same situation which happened to myself. Just wanted to point out such decisions might demotivate their colleagues and next their question would be "why the team slowed down". Apply that advice carefully.
    – Amberta
    Commented Nov 3, 2015 at 12:46

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