How leaders can deal with slow movers in a project chain

Managers and team leaders can do their bit to ensure that slow movers contribute significantly and meaningfully to the project at hand


Everyone works at their own pace. After all, not everyone can do the same tasks at the same pace. Even the learning pace differs from individual to individual. However, when an important task is assigned to a team, and the primary focus is timely delivery, individuals working at a slow pace can actually hinder goal accomplishment. How can one deal with the slow movers in a project chain? Considering that these slow movers impact the productivity, output and deliverables of the entire team, managers have to come up with ways to deal with such team members. Here are some suggestions:


“When moving with a team or doing a project together, the foremost step is to communicate the expectations,” says Pradyumna Pandey, CHRO, Mother Dairy. It’s essential for the managers to communicate with the slow-moving team member(s) and set clear expectations regarding timelines and deadlines. The specific needs have to be put across unambiguously, and the team members have to be made aware of the importance of meeting the deadlines. When everyone is on the same page regarding what is to be done and when the output is supposed to be delivered, the task becomes easy.

“When moving with a team or doing a project together, the foremost step is to communicate the expectations.”

Pradyumna Pandey, CHRO, Mother Dairy

Assign clear responsibilities

“Since team leaders are always aware of their members, it’s important that they clarify the roles and responsibilities to each team member,” says Mukul Harish Chopra. This will help the slow movers understand what and how much they are expected to contribute and when. This will also make them feel included and valued as they will realise that they also have an important place in the team and in the manager’s eyes.

Set realistic goals

While setting deadlines for projects, leaders sometimes focus so much on timely delivery that they tend to lose sight of their team’s competence, looking only at their performance. Hence, they may try to make the delivery possible in six days when it is actually possible only in ten. They may end up overcommitting without even communicating with their teams. “One team cannot have all the top or excellent performers. There is always a mix of people, each one with a different pace of working,” points out Pandey. Therefore, people have to support each other.

Set goals and monitor progress

Set specific goals for the slow movers and monitor their progress closely. This will help identify any potential issues early on and allow managers the time to address them before they become bigger problems. “A leader will never put together a team that is programmed to fail,” observes Chopra. Hence, it’s important to monitor the progress of each individual, and the team as a whole, at every step and help the slow movers align their pace with the set goals.

Offer support

Sometimes, slow movers may need additional resources or support to get their work done. Be open to providing any necessary help, such as training or additional guidance, to help them complete their tasks more efficiently. As Pandey rightly puts it, “Many slow movers need support, and it is up to the leaders to assess where, when and what kind of additional support is required”.

“A leader will never put together a team that is programmed to fail.”

Mukul Harish Chopra, CHRO, ConveGenius

Chopra agrees and adds, “It’s vital for the leadership to help them get the context of their role right. One can only perform a task successfully when they’re aware of their role completely and have the liberty to ask for help wherever needed.”

Consider reassignment

If the slow-moving team member continues to struggle, it would be a good idea to consider reassigning them to a different role or task that better fits their skills and strengths. This can help them become more productive while also benefiting the overall project. When slow movers are given a big task, they tend to get bogged down by the pressure. “A leader can break those bigger projects into smaller tasks, short-term deadlines and bit-sized milestones. This will help them understand the project better and achieve their goals quickly.”

Additionally, it’s important for the leaders/mangers to put the right team on the job in the first place. ‘If I lead large projects and choose people to be in my team, it is not because they are the best and the brightest, but because I know they’ll be able to get the job done right,” believes Chopra.

Be empathetic and patient

Lastly, it’s the responsibility of the managers/leaders to make the slow movers feel valued. Even if the project is lagging, they should not be made to feel that it is their fault. “A leader needs to understand exactly why they are not able to deliver and deal with the issue in a positive way,” advises Pandey.

To summarise, dealing with slow movers is a delicate matter that requires patience and understanding. By using smart strategies, leaders and managers can help them become more productive and contribute to the success of the project.


Comment on the Article

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

ten − 3 =