There comes a time in your work life that you will meet someone who you know can’t do his job properly.  He might be in a brand new position.  It might be their first job.  Whatever the story, you may feel the urge to find ways to either circumvent him or do his job for him.

Resist the urge.

It’s really easy to try to compensate for a team member who might not be pulling her full weight.  The harder (but also more rewarding) challenge, is to figure out how to get them up and running.  Think “teach a man to fish.”  Here are a few tips you can try to help someone help themselves at work:

  • Teach them about company culture and policies. One of the biggest barriers to being efficient at a job is understanding how a company works.  A new person needs time to get acclimated before he can hit the ground running.  You can shorten ramp-up time by teaching them how things work in the office.
  • Ease into the job. When you try anything new, it’s much easier to start with smaller tasks and work your way into the harder meat of a problem.  If you are assigning this person tasks, have them start small and then increase the workload until she’s up to speed.
  • Allow work time for training. Setting aside some time for learning rather than working can pay off in the long run.  If you know your co-worker needs to improve a certain skill, set aside some of their time to improving that skill for its sake, not based on any particular task at hand.
  • Perform regular check-ins. Despite having managed a variety of people over my career, I’m always amazed how just checking up on someone regularly can improve their performance.  Stop by daily or weekly and just chat about how things are going.  You’ll end up removing blockers that prevent your co-worker from performing at his maximum.

Giving people the tools to perform effectively will save your co-workers’ (and your) sanity in the long run.  So why not give it a try instead of just increasing your own workload?

-Deborah Fike

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