Let’s face it, we all know or have worked with – those who at some point in time were ineffective people. You might say less than accountable or productive.

It may have been at work or possibly in your personal life. Professionally we come across all kinds of team members and as managers or people leaders, you want employees who are seeking to contribute to both to the immediate successes as well as the broader organizational initiatives. Some are excellent and require less attention and support while others may need some work. That is why it’s important to know what to look for.
Below are 10 common characteristics to watch out for when seeking someone who you can count on.

No Urgency

Ineffective people don’t take work or their job responsibilities seriously, in fact, many things show up as a joke or unimportant. This manifests in being tardy to both meetings as well as work. They are known to cancel things at the last minute or simply not communicate their potential absence at all.  Their apparent lack of time management and respect of leadership is an obvious developmental gap that should be addressed as soon as possible.

Analysis Paralysis

Ineffective people spend too much time thinking and not enough time doing. They may worry about what others think of them or look for evidence to support their hypothesis. This can show up during a brainstorming session, project or program management or after receiving feedback. Instead of taking time to plan and prepare,  ineffective people tend to work harder versus smarter.

Everything Is Code Red

Ineffective people don’t properly prioritize their to-do lists; if they even have one. They are usually focusing on things that aren’t mission critical or time-sensitive or allow small tasks to take up the majority of their time. As a result, they miss deadlines and can potentially spin their wheels in the process (see #2 above).

Lack of Empathy

Ineffective people “sometimes” lack empathy. This isn’t always the case but it’s been shown that if someone can’t put themselves in another person’s shoes and see things from a different perspective, they may not be able to understand others effectively. Although this is not a key indicator of direct effectiveness, it is an important trait (an indicator) of successful leadership.

Fearing Change

Ineffective people are challenged with how to embrace change. They typically can be found drumming up the water cooler talk about things they either have no evidence to support or simply find comfort in gossiping and drama.

The Glass Is Always Half Full

Ineffective people tend to look for the downside in things while overlooking the good and potential possibilities that are present. They dwell in the past and focus on what’s wrong or didn’t work with a project or assignment while slowing down both themselves and their team.

Thanks, But I Got This

Ineffective people refuse to accept advice from those who care about them and have their best interest at heart, as their managers. They often think that what works for others won’t work for them because their situation is as unique as they are. Some may see this as the entitlement while others view at immaturity.

Wasting Time Unknowingly

Ineffective people often have no concept of time (see #3 above). Their relationship to time is weak and they can be found spending a lot of time on meaningless tasks, starting and stopping projects prematurely, or engaging in gossip (see #6 above). Ineffective people are more likely to spend endless hours surfing the web, take longer lunch breaks, and get less accomplished.

Throw In The Towel

Ineffective people often give up easily when the going gets tough. They take the approach of saying, “See, I told you that wouldn’t work,” when something goes wrong. Instead of focusing on problem-solving strategies to overcome obstacles, they often view barriers as impossible hurdles to overcome and look to enroll others in their story.

The Bail Out

Ineffective people either don’t ask for help or don’t know how to ask. They do, however, expect that others should just drop everything they’re doing and help them at all costs when they do finally ask. This can show up as either arrogant or entitled or sometimes both. They can be short-tempered and childlike if they don’t get their way and this emotional burst can also waste valuable time (see #3,#4 & #8).

Learn more about how to deal with ineffective people:

Final Thought:

Being ineffective is not a medical condition nor has it been scientifically proven (by my records) to be genetic or irreversible. If you are a people leader and think you may have someone who is ineffective, fear not – there are actions you can take such as addressing these behaviors with the individual. Many times people are simply unaware of how they show up in (both their personal and professional) life. That is why we have measures such as providing “effective” feedback, learning and leadership development and last but not least performance management. If you are unsure how to address these behaviors within your organization, don’t be afraid to seek out help from within your HR Team, People Operations Department or a Mentor or Colleague.

With Leadership,

Joshua Miller

Joshua Miller is a creative leader and impactful executive coach.

His career spans both the advertising world and the world of leadership. In advertising, he was the creative lead, responsible for the campaign strategy for Fortune 100 brands. Today, he is an innovator. He’s supporting the executive development and change management for many of the same companies.

Joshua studied at Syracuse University, NYU and Stanford. He combines that background with his deep knowledge of organizational behavior, performance and change management. He focuses on the analysis, design, development, delivery, and evaluation of scalable and global talent development solutions programs.

Joshua is a Master Certified Coach. He trained with the International Coaching Federation and CTI (The Coaches Training Institute).