I’m sure that you’ve been in on a lot of group project since you were a kid. In class the teacher would pair you off into groups to do a project. If there was more than one person, typically a group of 4+, you would always have that one person who kind of hung back and just kind of sort-of did some work, that person was a social loafer.
These people typically don’t either know that they are being social loafers, mostly due to the lack of team leadership and role assignments OR they know exactly what they are doing and just don’t care all that much.
So, what the heck do you do about social loafers?
Social Loafers in a Large Group?
A group being too large for the project at hand can actually cause social loafers. For example, many times a group just might feel that they have to call in someone with some level of expertise on a subject, but the role is really just too small to keep these people around, but instead of letting these people give advice and send them on their way, they are called to be a part of this huge project. The best course of action if the group has social loafers, if the group is too large, is to simply reorganize the group and let people out of the group.
Lazy People in the Group?
If the person is simply there because they know exactly what they are doing, you might never know. What you have to do in this situation is test them out. Assign a very specific, time-deadline task to the individual. If the person does not come back with satisfactory results OR if they just give you a bunch of excuses why they can’t do the task (make sure the reason is valid first, for example: you can’t ask someone who is visually impaired to pick a specific shade of blue) then you might just not want this person on the team.
Why does this matter in marketing?
Like the article about getting rid of silos, you will eventually be running campaigns that will require the help of several people. You want to make sure that your group is fully structured correctly and does not have excess people on it.
Outside of Marketing?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run into a company that has a ton of social loafers, people passing on the buck or simply just reassigning their role and responsibility to someone else. If this is happening in your business, then you might want to pay attention of what is happening.
How do you Prevent Social Loafers?
You must make sure that every role is fully assigned. If you are running a project, it is your responsibility to make sure that all the work is fully assigned. No one just gets to hang back, that is a waste of resources and time. Additionally, don’t be afraid to let people out of the project when their roles have been completed or the tasks are done. I’m sure that they have other things to do as well. If you need that individual again in the future, if you’ve done your job in project management, simply have them read the project brief that you would have made and kept current.
So, if you need to know something and know it now, contact me.