How a team should deal with a slacker

Bob Lewis offers a couple of strategies for hard-working employees with colleagues who do not pull their weight

Dear Bob ...

My help desk team has Ferraris, SUVs, Cooper Minis, and moving vans, all of which is well and good. One of them, however, barely qualifies as a scooter -- going uphill.

[ Also on InfoWorld, Bob has tips for what to do when employees waste time online | Get sage IT career advice from Bob Lewis' Advice Line newsletter. ]

I really don't know what he does all day. He rarely answers the phone, he never works the help desk e-mail inbox to create service tickets (even when it's hours or days behind the SLA and we badly need the help), and he never makes deskside visits.

Assigning tickets to the rest of the team is one of my duties, and it's gotten to the point where, for every ticket I give Scooter, I give literally several dozen to most other techs (including myself). I know that whenever I give Scooter a ticket, he'll either make some excuse to give it back to me or assign it to someone else.

Meanwhile, most of the rest of us are so swamped with work that we barely even have time to document our tickets before we're called on to do something else.

I know it's not because he doesn't know how to do the job. I've had enough conversations with him to know that he does have the skills. He just won't do the work. In fact, when he came in today, he loudly announced that he was looking forward to "another quiet, relaxing day at the office."

I've considered a few different approaches. One is keeping a spreadsheet of all the tickets I assign to him, specifying date and outcome, for a month or so, then giving it to the manager, but that seems more than a little passive/aggressive, at least at this point.

I've also thought of asking the manager for a "clarification" of what Scooter's role is here. "I've noticed that Scooter doesn't perform any of the duties that the rest of us do. Are his job responsibilities different from ours? If so, how?" Then when he says that Scooter's role is the same as ours, I'll find some way to diplomatically point out that Scooter isn't pulling his own weight and how it's having an impact on the rest of the team.

I'm not the only one who's aware of the problem, needless to say. Any suggestions you may have would be appreciated.

- Frustrated

Dear Frustrated ...

Other than suffer in silence, which you and your teammates have already tried, all of your alternatives start with the sort of documentation you already have in mind.

So definitely, collect it -- the number of tickets Scooter handles vs the number everyone else handles.

Here are two possibilities:

Alternative one: Confront

Step 1: Talk to the manager about your plan to confront the team member. Don't identify who it is. Just let the manager know you have solid data that demonstrates one member of the team is collecting a salary without doing more than a few hours of work a week, not because he's incapable but because he thinks it's clever. Your goal is to get the manager's approval to handle this within the team and to let him know that if you're unsuccessful you will formally escalate the problem.

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