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4 Signs a Team Member Is Struggling On A Project

Posted by  Mark Baars

Assembling a team to work on a project is about having the right mix of skills to see the project through to success. Sometimes those chosen for a project may begin to struggle. Whether it's from embellishing their skill set to get on the project, or realizing they lack the knowledge necessary to complete the work after the fact, struggling employees can act out in destructive ways that put the project at risk. The following are four signs I've witnessed when an employee is having difficulty completing assigned tasks as expected.

Excessively Cynical
In some instances, team members express high levels of cynicism even when the project is going well. Their cynical attitude may have nothing to do with the project itself, but their inability to complete their portion of the project due to a lack of skill or understanding. By projecting ideas about the project failing, they hope to avoid scrutiny about their inadequacies. It is important to rein in unchecked cynicism, as it can quickly affect the optimism and productivity of other team members as the project progresses.

Constantly Complaining
Complaints are another tool I've seen employees use to deflect attention from their struggle to complete their work. Some complaining is expected when dealing with a team of people with different temperaments and personalities, but for team members who always have something negative to say about the project, their role or even other team members, the reasons may run deeper than just general dissatisfaction with their work.

Becomes Passive Aggressive
Passive aggressiveness is often a defensive behavior and not just a negative personality trait. When people are feeling inadequate in their abilities, they can hide behind passive-aggressive behaviors to deflect attention from themselves. Passive aggressiveness can manifest itself in constant forgetfulness, misplacing important pieces of a project and constantly missing important deadlines. Like the other behaviors on this list, it's necessary to get the passive-aggressive behavior under control quickly, because it will derail a project and disrupt other team members' productivity.

Quality of Work Declines
When team members are struggling with a project, the quality of their work may decline over time. Work previously delivered error-free and on time may soon start appearing late, incomplete or riddled with errors. People aren't always quick to admit they've overstated their skills or are struggling to meet expectations, but noticeable declines in work quality can be a sign that something is wrong, and it's necessary to address these employees to see what issues they are having.

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Mark Baars



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