Why Everybody Else But You Does a Poor Job in The Team?

I have heard game producers, project managers and other team leaders telling and pondering how “everybody else in the team does a poor job, even when I’ve told them what to do”.

Days and weeks pass and some people just not seem to get anything done.

The first obvious choice might be blaming those people and thinking about monitoring the team members or give more guidelines on what needs done. Some might even use threats or remind these guys as often as possible (using cell phone, emails, instant messaging, and other methods ranging from smoke signals to car horns).

More months pass and nothing might happen – besides that you’ve now buried yourself into a pile of endless reports – and the tension might grow even more.

The other option for monitoring, guidelines and reports could be asking. First ask yourself: “Have I’ve done everything well? Is there absolutely nothing in my actions or behaviour I couldn’t improve?” Sometimes by merely asking yourself what you could do better might help. You might realize that you’ve been silent when the team member has asked for help. Because you were too busy in the past – why should he listen to you in the future?

Before blaming or accusing you might also ask the team member: “I know you are a hard worked and have done a great job in the past, but recently you seem to need much more time to finish your tasks and the quality is below what you usually do. Is there anything I or we both could do to make things better?” Perhaps he has been too busy with handling other tasks or helping his co-workers. Perhaps he would like to take more part in the planning and design phase instead of simply acting like a computer that gets input and prints output. Perhaps he would like to get more responsibility. Perhaps he has just been too busy or lacked motivation and needs a break.

There are lots of reasons that might explain his behaviour. Say clearly what you expect and simply ask how you could improve the situation. It might be all that you need.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. Oh, for the sake of it….Well, I was dealing with peeps that thought that owning a company and shares equals to rightfull, just and reasonable place in every position regardless of, well…anything. It can’t be that bad everywhere. :)

  2. Sorry for the bad grammar and spelling, my emotions got the best of me. I should be more patient while outbursting my rage. ;P

  3. “However, if team members are held accountable by their peers, they will be far less tempted to get lost in the machine, and those that aren’t team players will quickly find themselves alone. So alone that their termination will do little harm to the morale of the rest of the team.”

    True, nonetheless people are put to postion of taking care of the “commanding officer” whom is on his break every and each moment. One must take consiquenses in their hands to keep moving things forward and solving issues, the problem arises when the careless captain cares to share attention to the matters at hand. He does not know where he stands nor where the project goes, but due to keep his authority he makes a choise of action due to keep his authority regardless of any knowledge to one way nor another. Now, with that sort of management we have a shitload of problems, not only that the idiot is not following nor aware of the guidelines but yet stupid enough to make a blind move…because his creative in his own mind and thus ****s up even the last saving plan that was made on his leave for….scrathing his (bottom), I’v seen this happen IRL and it’s truely sad and even moreso hard and difficult for everyone else in the project. Then again It’s the corporate way and if you dare to critisize, you are ’bout to be fired…punk!

    I’ll put a cap on mi bottle’o rants, once again :D

  4. @Dan: Thanks for the fine post. I could add that this type of behavior can been seen also in other fields of life: like with relationships – it’s quite easy to forget what one has done to others, but easy to remember all the nasty things others have done to him..

    Agile methods (like those daily “meetings”) are fine, but not always possible in (virtual) indie teams where timezones might have 8-10 hour differences.

  5. This type of project mis-management isn’t just common to the game industry, but rather the IT industry as a whole.

    The problem here is that people get easily lost in a monolithic project if they aren’t required to frequently show the progress they’ve made. Usually it’s a case of overwhelming or uncertainty of the priorities. Other times, it’s laziness or the inability for certain individuals to work as a team.

    So far, the best method I’ve seen and used is called the “agile” method, which forces progress visibility very frequently in the form of many releaseable milestones (complete with show and tell so the project team can have a feeling of accomplishment) and daily 10-minute dashboard meetings to see what’s being worked on, and what was accomplished up to the point of the meeting. When needed, road blocks are identified, and those that are “struggling” to get their part accomplished will get attention very quickly.

    The purpose here is to give the team co-ownership of the project and make them accountable to their other team-mates rather than some authority figure (though that figure is present and does have final say). The frequent milestones also forces the project manager to adjust delivery times (either later or earlier) and have good rationale to do so when inevitably questioned as to why something is running late or will release early.

    The problem the author described in this blog is that project managers frequently believe that their sole role is a supervisory one. Defining priorities is the key job of the project manager. They need to manage the project, not the people. In fact, it usually works out the best when the PM is a peer within the group rather than an axe-wielding authority figure. The PM’s responsibility is delivering a product, and supporting or mentoring the team when needed, not babysitting employees.

    Threats and nagging do little to motivate anyone, and if anything fuel the disdain and quality of the project will suffer.

    However, if team members are held accountable by their peers, they will be far less tempted to get lost in the machine, and those that aren’t team players will quickly find themselves alone. So alone that their termination will do little harm to the morale of the rest of the team.

  6. Yeh… and I’m not sure if it’s better or worse situation when owners LISTEN to employees, and then systematically ignore everything that’s being said.

  7. Good call. I’m currently employed as a PC tech and I see this a lot at work. A great deal of our lack of productivity is due to the lack of communication. The owners tell us what needs to be done but they don’t really communicate on a level where we can adjust things on our end as well as theirs so that the work can be completed. As you said we do get treated like a computer where we get input and a certain output is expected reguardless of how it gets done or what else is going on.

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