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How To Deal With Freeloaders

February 20, 2007

Projects, projects… they are never-ending. They exist in schools, in workplaces and corporate organizations. Projects require loads of team work and also assistance by the supervisor. And often, the outcome of a project is determined by the people who make up the team and also the leader.

Well, I’ve got a friend who chat with me on MSN messenger just the other day, complaining about a character that she has in her project group. They are working on a big project which will take 45% of their course grade. And it’s really important that they don’t ‘screw it up’.

Here’s what she said,

“I don’t seem to be able to motivate my fellow group members at all.

Two of them are weird! One of them, hardly makes a point to turn

up for meetings or contribute anything to the project. He doesn’t seem

interested to work on this project together at all. I don’t really know

him well and it’s tough to try to make an effort to make things work.

What do you recommend?”

A form of consolation to her would be, I’ve met people of the same characters before. Thankfully, in different circumstances. Well, these people who don’t turn up or contribute can be termed as the ‘Freeloaders’ – people who take the benefit at the expense of others.

There are a couple of ways to handle the ‘Freeloader’ and they are:

  • Talk to him/her to find out why he can’t make it for the meetings
  • What are his areas of interest related to the project
  • Delegate jobs to him/her and setting deadlines
  • Ask if there are any problems that he/she faces

Freeloaders often are capable of producing results and they don’t because they are well, not motivated in the area of their interest. For instance, they don’t really care about their grades and aren’t really interested in the project topic. Hence, it’s important to get to know you group member on the personal level. Find out what his/her likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses. They need to feel that they are ‘needed’ by the group and ‘pushed’ to contribute more.

From there, try to suit areas of research required to his interests/ strengths. Get a buddy to monitor his research progress and make sure that constant reminders are given to encourage the ‘freeloader’. Note that it’s to encourage and not to nag at him/her. Nagging won’t help in the situation because it only pushes the person away.

If all these don’t work, try a direct confrontation but in an amicable manner and find out what is really wrong and preventing him/her from giving his best to the project.

Always try to be understanding and thoughtful towards the other and perhaps, even look at things from a different perspective. In fact, treat the person in a way that makes him/her feel even more obliged to put in extra effort for the task.  

How?

By offering help frequently. Being considerate and nice. Being a great fellow group member and friend. In these ways, things are bound to look up.

For all these to happen, you need to take action! So, take the initiative to make things better. In that way, you can at least console yourself by saying, “At least I tried” if things don’t go as well as expected.
 

*By taking the first step is already half the battle won.*

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3 Comments

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