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Handling Weaknesses in a Colleague

Let’s talk about the phenomenon of perceiving shortcomings in a colleague whom everyone else on the team regards so highly

Why does it often happen that the team members we least look forward to working with are those that others perceive to be invaluable? If someone asks for your opinion on this person's suitability for the team, how can you suggest exploring other options without coming across as an obstacle to productivity or appearing to hold a personal grudge?

Ever had to work with someone again after a bad first impression?

  • Yes, totally!

  • No - lucky me!

Here are some strategies that can help you navigate this situation:

Keep an open mind about the person's performance.

It's possible your experience with this colleague has been limited, and you may not have had a chance to see them at their best.

Keep in mind that performance can be a variable indicator of a person's competency and everyone has off days.

Additionally, try to avoid being set in your ways.

The next time you work with this individual, pay closer attention and see if there are any recurring trends compared to your initial experience with them.

If you notice patterns of underperformance, you may want to discuss this with your manager in a way that highlights your concern for the success of the project and team.

Learn more about how others perceive this person.

While it's important to avoid gossiping, it's acceptable to discuss a person's work style if it's affecting your productivity. If you're experiencing an issue while working with this colleague, approach the discussion in a way that makes it clear you're looking for advice or input on how to mitigate the problem. This dialogue makes it clear that you're addressing an isolated incident and not questioning their character or competence as a whole.

Be proactive to avoid similar undesired occurrences.

If you find yourself feeling less than enthusiastic about working with someone again, take a moment to reflect on your experience with them. Identify the aspects that you found challenging and try to adopt a proactive approach to minimize the likelihood of similar issues arising in the next project.

For example, if a colleague was unresponsive, set up a system that holds them accountable and allows for easy communication.

If they delegated too much, create a master list of action items and deliverables that assigns specific tasks to each contributor, allowing for visibility of what each person is actually contributing to the project.

If they provided incorrect information without taking responsibility, adopt a system where the source of information is referenced alongside the actual information.


By implementing these strategies, you can gain a better understanding of why you may perceive this colleague differently from others on your team and work towards building a more productive relationship.


Stay tuned for more articles about common situations in a corporate setting and how to handle them - be sure to subscribe to our email list to stay up to date!


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