07/25/2014 11:19 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Got a Loafer on Your Team?

2014-07-24-loafer228a310ca0223e00d09461217.jpgIs someone not pulling their weight yet expecting to enjoy the fruits of your group's hard work? Here are five tips to prevent freeloading. Avoid the unattractive, energy-sucking role of the nag. Instead become the popular Opportunity Maker who's the glue that holds the group together. Try these five ways to prevent or stop free riding.

2014-07-24-images1.jpeg 1. Meet in person at least once

Face-to-face meetings are more likely to build relationships than meeting virtually, by phone or online. After making a connection in person we are inclined to bond with the group and want to follow through.

2. Establish rules of engagement

As a group create ground rules that involve rewards and penalties. If, for example, someone doesn't meet a deadline and doesn't explain in advance, offering an alternative to make up for the loss, will the group drop that person?

2014-07-24-agrees2.jpeg3. Agree on a few vital commitments

As a group, prioritize top goals and tasks. Rather than agreeing to many assignments, settle on a few that are important to each member. Success begets more success - and group esprit de corps. Over-committing then missing goals makes one feel guilty and avoid teammates. It brings down the whole team.

4. Create a visible task tracking system

Create a way that all committee members must record their progress on a task and view others' progress. Such transparency affects each member's reputation with others on the team. The most successful self-managed teams have a specific top goal and a short, prioritized list of concretely-described tasks - each with a lead person and timetable. All these elements are easily viewable by all members.

5. Provide an automatic reminder system

Create a way that members receive reminders for key deadlines, perhaps by email. This system may also include notification when other team members have completed tasks or provided information that's needed for a member to take the next step.

This is my lightly-adapted version of Ken Thompson's tips for "stopping team freeriding." As the author of Bioteams and an expert on team dynamics and virtual collaboration Thompson has a treasure trove of Me2We tips including two of my favorites, Five tips for a perfect meeting and The seven beliefs of high performing teams. Hear Ken's interview and discover more about the power of self-organizing (peer2peer) groups.