I think everyone knows about this one: You are in a team, a good team with lots going on and lots getting done. But not everything.

The projects are challenging, you see the guys around you growing and giving it their best. It's not just work the casual conversation at the coffee machine is interesting and there is SO much to like.

But still there are some regular little nasty tasks popping up that get ignored actively, until one victim sighs deeply and just does it. Again and again and... Nothing big. Nothing challenging. Thankless little stupid stuff that still needs to be done. It is not laziness; big tasks requiring a lot of effort get to be picked up easily in this team. Mind you, doing those confers respect of course.

If everyone would pitch in that would be OK. But that is not happening. Doing it once, next time it keeps laying about like the dishes of yesterday. Or the day before. Setting an example, giving discreet nudges, saying it out loud... nothing gets them into the action.

Now I tend to get really annoyed about this. And I know it shows. I really want to avoid that and I also want to keep it small.

So, how do I achieve a better balance and still keep it light and positive, and encouraging? I'm open to multiple approaches, having tried some already I'd really like some options.

  • What is your role in the team? If you aren't the team's leader, is there one?
    – 1006a
    Oct 15, 2017 at 22:22
  • It's (supposed to be) a scrum team. Not much in the way of leadership as roles and available time are a mixed bag.
    – Bookeater
    Oct 16, 2017 at 5:06
  • 1
    Are these the kind of tasks whoch really need to be done in order to move the project forward, or are these the kind of tasks which which would really nice if they got done, and tend to annoy some people more than others if they don't?
    – brhans
    Oct 17, 2017 at 17:05

4 Answers 4


If you can, make a chart that rotates who does what on what days. Generally people are less irritated by doing menial things if it isn't the same thing all the time.

Also know, that sometimes, despite it not garnering respect, being willing to do certain things will garner you favor. I was a salaried employee at decent level, and making great money when our cleaning lady had a massive accident outside of work. We didn't have anyone temp yet and there was no one to go around and do the minimal things, like empty trash, scrub toilets, etc. EVERYONE said "not me", but me. I said, "Can I do it on my normal paid hours or will it be staying late?" I was given a super odd look (most others were hourly and would have gotten overtime for it) and then the owner grinned and said that if I was willing to step up, he would give me comp time, but it had to be after close. So I did it. In the end I got promoted. It wasn't because of that one thing, it was because I had an attitude of "I can do that". It's how I am. If something needs to be done, I can scrub a toilet in my suit and heels. I do it at home sometimes. No big deal.

So while it might not seem like there is any respect in some jobs (like scrubbing toilets) there can always be respect earned by the way you do such things.

I am not suggesting you keep on doing what you do. I have no idea what that is or if in your case it would be properly noticed and appreciated. I am simply saying that not all things that feel "beneath our potential" are a waste of time and effort.


Responsibility, and make the fulfilling/not-fulfilling of that Responsibility visible.

If you have a list of small task A, B, and C. Then tell John he is in charge of A, Juan he is in charge of B, and Jean he is in charge of C.

helpful hint, don't present it as a chore, by saying "you have to do A." instead present it as a responsibility "your in charge of A."

If specific people are responsible for specific things they are far far more likely to get done. Make sure you hold a regularly scheduled meeting (say once a week, or daily if needed) were every person on the team has to tell every one else how they are doing with their responsibilities.

You can also split up the responsibility by day (jean does it Monday, john on Tuesday, etc. . ) instead of by job.

If you don't have authority to assign responsibility, say your not the manager or your dealing with room mates, then your going to have to ask every one to agree to be responsible for different task/days. In which case you will probably get at least 1 shirker.

When you lack hiring/raise/bonus authority you have to get more creative about the incentives. Say sharing ice cream at the end of the week with only those who fulfilled their responsibility. But the principles are still the same. Divvy up the responsibilities so every one knows what their job is and then make sure the fulfilling of those responsibilities has a benefit that is seen by every one.

Good luck!

  • It's an informal culture, and responsibility is exactly the type of positive turn-around that I need. Good energy this.
    – Bookeater
    Oct 13, 2017 at 20:33

You should suggest a scheduling plan. "I know no one likes these tasks. We all hope someone else will do it. The work must be done and we should split the work evenly."

This way you make them feel more responsible and I'm sure they will agree.

Write down a plan together when a small task must be done by whom. There are different approaches like time base, task count, day based and many more. Together you will find the best solution how to schedule.


A group can't live without a leader.

Even if there isn't a "boss" you can convince them to do the right thing.

Be serious and responsible they will hear you.

Make a list and assign tasks by choosing all together, someone will be disponible for sure

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.