Right now, I am pursuing with my graduation final year(bachelor in computer science).I don’t know whether I can ask question about my college stuff, because never came across while browsing through question. Still, it’s my WorkPlace.

I have a group of 5 members, working on a Java based project. As a matter of chance, I am the team leader, and have much experience with Java. Rest of my members are not so good, in fact, not even average. From the starting, the whole burden is on me, and the whole coding stuff+ the documentation. But this is high time now. I worked days and nights, seeking answers on Stack Overflow, but now I feel kind of pressurized. I too have a limit. And need to make them also work now.

But, my fellow mates have taken me for granted. I don’t know what to say now? How to tell them to work hard? And the problem is, if they have to contribute, they have to know a hell about Java, so they have to study a lot. But, they don’t want to. What should I do? How to handle this?


Few points as requested in comments.

Well this may sound funny but, in colleges and stuff, there is no project management. This might be shocking, that the structure of the project,is completed after the project gets over.

This is common because this is the stage when we are learning things, and don’t have much experience about its implementation. And there is no division of work. Who so ever is good at it, should go for it.


"This sounds like a classic case of one person running off with a project after getting really excited and not bothering to try to include his teammates, who then don't do anything or put effort into the project, and ultimately back-firing because one person cannot accomplish an entire project. But the eager team-member realizes this too late to effectively change tactics and suddenly the entire team is going to be brought down as a result. " by @enderland

Well,yes, i think its true.Have to accept it.

Realized it just now,it was my mistake for whatever had happened.Cannot blame my team-mates for this. Should have thought before what to do,and what not.But now trying to correct my mistake with the help of comments and answers,answered by helpful,experienced and wonderful people on this forum.Thanks.

Will update what happened in the end.

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    @joeyrohan - this truly isn't a "Workplace" question; in a real work place, you'd either be in a position to enforce that they do their jobs, or you'd have a manager who could do so. Unfortunately, in this case, you really don't have any way to push them to do the work. Perhaps your professor could have ideas on how to continue? – Adam V Jan 21 '13 at 17:28
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    If, as i assume, this is about a college programming project, you would be better off asking on a student or academia site. The situation in a real workplace would be very different. – DJClayworth Jan 21 '13 at 17:35
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    @joeyrohan - "How can I ask them to study..." - by telling them that you're under the same pressures study-wise, but that you've been doing the work for this class as well, and they don't appear to be holding up their end. – Adam V Jan 21 '13 at 17:35
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    The exact same thing has happened to me in the recent past. Eventually, when the deadline came close and no code/contribution/cooperation from them - I wrote to our instructor stating that we have failed as a team, and that I do not wish to make a submission as a team. I said that I am ready to take a penalty for the team's failure, and that I would like to submit alone, if allowed to. The instructor spoke to us separately after that, and allowed me to make a delayed, individual submission. I don't know what happened to my team-mates but I got a 9/10 on that course. – ArjunShankar Jan 21 '13 at 20:51
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    @joeyrohan, BTW, just for the record, these people are not your friends. They are using you and friends don't do that. – HLGEM Jan 21 '13 at 22:00

"We picked up java cause my team mates were like "pick the one YOU are ok with"" - herein lies the root cause - they did not intend to work from the start. Nothing will help now if all they do is exploit your hard work.

However, it is your fault that you did not spot that; the best thing you can do now is disband the team and work yourself, for better or worse:

  • Do not let them get credit for your work.
  • Do not get accustomed to working with mediocrities and helping them out.
  • One of the most valuable skills in life (and work) is the ability to say "No". Many folks will be glad to free-ride on your shoulders without any qualms; say "No" when you sniff such behavior, don't work with them again.
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    Nah, no problem here. Let us know how the project goes, if you don't mind. – Deer Hunter Jan 21 '13 at 18:36
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    I disagree. You committed to be a part of that team and you should try to succeed or fail as a team. This will happen in the workplace as well. Then you will not be able to just cast your lazy team mates aside. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Jan 21 '13 at 20:44
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    @Chad - I do not think it fair that a team does less work than it is capable of, and the hard working teammates are penalized by management for 'not meeting goals on time/quality' - while their other colleagues slack off. Yes you fail as a team, but at some point, you've got to identify inefficiency, and point it out to someone who can deal with it. – ArjunShankar Jan 21 '13 at 21:01
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    @ArjunShankar - I never said it was fair. But then again you will find that life have far more unfair situations you will have to deal with than it does fair ones. Some of them fall in your favor but most will seem stacked against you. If you spend to much time pointing the finger at the reasons you failed to complete the project you will find yourself explaining how it was not your fault you got fired. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Jan 21 '13 at 21:34
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    @Chad : first, thanks for the edit. Second, agree with you in principle on the importance of succeeding as a team. However, am wary of the importance of "failing as a team". Failure however noble will not be rewarded. In the OP's case, the idea is to cut losses after breach of trust by team members. It is too late to find a new team; it will not do to endure with gritted teeth to the end only to see the lazy and the incompetent appropriate the fruit of one's toil. – Deer Hunter Jan 23 '13 at 7:58

I'm going to assume this is a college project, not an actual workplace. I'm also going to assume the project is only a few weeks in duration.

If this is the case, you don't have any real way of making your colleagues work harder. What you can do is sit down with them and tell them that you think you are doing more than your fair share of work. Ask them to step up and do more. Ask them if there is a reason why they are not doing as much as you. Be aware that they might think they are working as hard as you, but if they are not as experienced as you, or there is poor communication in the team, it doesn't always look like it to you.

You say your teammates don't know Java that well. Did you get any choice in the language? If so, why did you pick Java? It's rare that a course forces someone to do a project in a language they haven't been taught. Did you also get any choice in your teammates?

I would not recommend trying to adopt any kind of 'methodology' at this stage. If you only have a few weeks to go, then a new methodology will set you back more than it will give you. However you should stop just letting people do the stuff they feel like doing. Make sure everybody has a list of tasks and knows what they have to achieve to make the project work - one person does UI, one person does algorithms, one person does file interaction: something like that.

If your teammates won't step up and do more then I recommend scaling back the scope of the project to something you can achieve with the level of help they are prepared to give. Even well-defined projects usually have some features that can be skipped, or you can use a simpler architecture.

Finally make sure your professor is aware ahead of time what is happening. And when the project is over, you will have learned a whole lot about how software projects work.

  • Thank you for your answer.We picked up java cause my team mates were like "pick the one YOU are ok with" ;/ Will definately have a meeting tomorrow.Thanks!:) – joey rohan Jan 21 '13 at 17:53

Please ensure that your teammates fail the class. We don't want them in our profession.

Personally in this case, I would talk to the professor, show him what you have done and what, if anything, they have contributed and ask for help in how to get them to contribute their fair share or how you can get them off your team and be graded only for your own efforts.

For the future, never let anyone play you this way again. Divide up the work from the start and have daily meetings where everyone must describe their progress. One of the reasons for daily meetings in some agile processes is to make sure progress is being made. Make sure to use source control so you can see who has checked things in. Never let it get to this stage. In a workplace, I would have fired your teammates weeks ago.

  • Hehe i don't know why i am getting happy if someone is being rude to them :) – joey rohan Jan 21 '13 at 18:37

Yikes, this is a bit of a mess. I'd suggest having a team meeting to see if the other team members share the perspective of things looking bad. Perhaps they share your view and perhaps not, but that would be one idea. Could be worthwhile to know how everyone sees the current situation.

Second, consider the idea of adopting some form of methodology so that things can be at least a little organized. Scrum would be one idea though there are others that could be useful to get everyone on board with what has to be done within what window and move things forward. The structure here is key as without that you could have 5 people all scrambling to get the work done in different directions rather than being unified. There are other agile ideas that could be used though the idea here is to find something relatively lightweight that is relatively easy to implement so that you can start to get some traction.

If you want to overcome laziness, then I'd suggest finding their currency and using that as leverage. Do they care about their grades? Do they care about their reputation? Do they care about money? Most people in the world do have something that they value greatly and so the key is to find it and use that as a way to get the best out of them. While this is manipulation, there is something to be said for, "Hey, I'm going to get the best out of you yet and this is how we are going to do it..." where you could find ideas in books like "How to Win Friends and Influence People" or "Drive" if you want find persuasion and motivational techniques. There are more than a few ways you could go about this and it would be a useful skill to have in the world as there will be many times where someone may say, "Why should I do that?" and you have to find some way to get them to do it without an explicit, "Because I said so!" that sounds rather parental and belittling to the person that wants a reason for doing some work.

  • Nice thoughts:)But they are lazy as well :/ – joey rohan Jan 21 '13 at 17:36
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    +1 - consider the idea of adopting some form of methodology This is the solution to solving the problem of making the project a success. Given specific action items it should also get the team working toward the goal as well. And I agree with it so much I am ignoring the second half of the answer that would be better off removed. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Jan 21 '13 at 20:46

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