How to deal with teammates doing nothing

Hey, we are rapidly approaching the end of the build season and I personally am really worried. I have a couple of things that I am working on as the lead wire-er and programmer and it’s really just a one-man job. I have all of my teammates around me asking what to do and I can’t instruct everyone to do things all at once, plus we need to work on our arm but are dealing with shipping and buying stuff through our school system (it sucks). We are waiting on 1" extrusion pieces that we’ve finally got ordered and we have an idea for the arm, but we cannot do anything physical with the building until we get the supplies we ordered. Now to the problem, I have a more minor team of around 15 people, and only around 5-7 show up at a time. They don’t have anything to do since I am the only programmer and wire-er and id like to show someone else how to do it but no one else is interested in it. So I have 6-7 people just wandering and talking and I feel like I need them to do something, like prototype arm designs or organize or try to secure more funding, but no one can really take initiative and do these things, or try to, and then they just come back to me and ask me what to do and how to do it. now, this makes me feel bad because I want to be able to help them but I’m super busy with my own thing and can’t manage them, our mentor tries but he is also working on grading or researching and can’t manage them. I don’t know what to do so I’m just asking the kind people here if they have any ideas, Thanks, Liam.


Do you have just the one mentor/teacher?

Any chance your parents would be willing to come help you get organized and keep people on task?

Can you ask any other adults you know to come help? Half of mentoring is just keeping people focused and on task, technical skill isn’t always needed.


In my opinion, I think because of your responsibility in wiring while also having to delegate, you should take a look at your team structure. There seems to be too much on you to figure out and do. That leads to burnout really fast in my experience. Try to assign someone as a delegation lead to handle the people who are asking you for work to do. I hope this helps you in anyway Liam


Probably too late to fix this for this year. But it sounds like a management problem rather than an employee problem. The team lead really should not being working on the nuts and bolts, but directing and training others. The lead should have tasks for team members to do and a plan for the meeting. All of this should be done before the meeting. This is not easy. It can take years to work into. At this point you really don’t want people showing up with nothing to do. You also really cannot complain if people don’t show up if there is nothing to do. Sorry to sound so negative. Please don’t take it personally I don’t mean it that way. This is really the sort of thing that mentors should be training the students to do.


Hi Liam! This is a very relatable problem, because last year for my team, we had roughly 5-7 guys show up at a time, and we didn’t have a great system for keeping people working and involved, so half the time we would just sit around and wait to be told what to do. I really wanted to prevent that from happening this year, so I tried to focus a lot on delegation. A large part of what I do in our daily meetings is give people tasks, and have them work in teams of 2 or 3 so that they can all be involved, and work on something useful. I know that there is not much to do until you have all your parts, and that’s also a relatable issue, but there are certain things you can do to keep them involved. A thing that helped me and our team was that each day, I put together a simple to-do list, with several things that we need to do, from really important to not so important, so that I can think of everything before the meeting, and then just delegate the tasks. This helps from stopping my brain from freezing if someone asks what they can do. Finally, if there is really nothing to prototype or build at all, then maybe try and think of small fun projects that are unrelated to the robot, to keep people occupied and working, but also give them tangible experience (for example, I asked one of our sophomores to put together a small stand for a team flag we had lying around, to be able to use it more). This all comes through management, and maybe you have too much on your plate to actually do all of it, so as others above have suggested, maybe try appointing someone to delegate, or manage your students. Anyways, hope this helps!


we have 2 mentors but one cannot stay for very long, and the mentors are not experienced in FRC at all. they all look to me for ideas and for instructions for the robot. I am the one person on the team who monitors these forums and I do research every day for the robot, although the one mentor who is usually there is in contact with other teams, he does not know too much about FRC. This is only my 2nd year doing it and I’ve really committed to it, pulling my team up by the bootstraps and delegating and trying to get us to a decent place. I am only the VP of my robotics team, the president does help but again looks to me for what they should do but they have some intuition to do things. For other adults is a hard thing as the kids in the team, their parents work all day and do not have the time to come in and help.


Thanks, I’ve tried to do this but not everyone has experience in doing things. everyone just builds and listens to the head builder. He has some initiative and he definitely does some good things, but he also looks to me for how the robot should be built and what we need to do next. Thanks!


Thank you, I really did not want to come off as complaining and I’m sorry if I did. I’m totally fine with all 15 not coming in because that would be a headache and the robotics room would be like walking through a concert. I’d love to train people but the people I want to train don’t show up because of other obligations (I don’t fault them for that) One of my goals after I graduate next year is to come back as a mentor and help, even if I have to do it online. My goal is to build this team into a super successful team. Thanks for the advice!

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Thanks! this is a great idea and I’ll definitely try this at today’s meet!

We have a general rule on our team that I stress to our parents. We have a special build season pre-meeting just to discuss expectations of our 6 weeks.

Every student needs to adjust to the workload happening during build season. The varied workload during the build season does not work around the student’s time while here.
If you have nothing to do at the moment, be proactive and helpful with other things happening in the program. Pick up a broom and help clean up areas that need attention. Every team member in our program must have at a minimum, a primary and secondary role. Or a third if need be.


Others have brought up good points but to add to that, teach others how to do things even if it seems simple like setting connections, crimps, etc. into the robot. Build team can delegate responsibilities like sanding, filing, or cutting to these people. Even if they lack experience, the best way for them to learn in my opinion is to jump in and learn instead of watching one person do the work. For example, we had a number of people with zero experience hanging around our shop during our fall season work and our team leadership pulled them in to doing simple tasks around the shop. Some of them are now taking on bigger responsibilities because they learned the basics. They still need guidance of course, but that is what the team leads are there for.


I tried to implement something like this, and I’m definitely trying to instate something like this, but it is just really hard this late into the season, and with people not really knowing how to do too many things it’s just really difficult. Thanks though

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That’s basically where we are at. We just lack pieces and can’t do too much but id like them to get going on something in the meantime.

I think every team has these challenges. It really does take a lot of effort to keep everyone engaged. Best of luck to your team the rest of build season.



A really good first step into managing this better would be to hold a stand-up meeting at the beginning of each session and talk over what needs to be done with whomever shows up. Make a list that could be accomplished or at least started on, that day only. Keeping it short helps make it manageable and also, make the tasks as small as possible so that you build on the sense of accomplishment. People get motivated when they feel they are making a real contribution. Then, ask for volunteers on each task and make sure everyone has one. Follow up by asking if anyone needs help getting started and have mentors and yourself provide any initial support. Hope, this helps!



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Sounds like way too much is falling on you. Call a team meeting and show other members this forum and other resources you typically access.

Unfortunately I don’t have many suggestions for things you can do during a busy build season, but for now try to get through it and after the season definitely come back for advice on how to better train folks around you.

Sounds like you’re doing a great job. It’s tough balancing teaching others in build vs doing something yourself that has to get done, all while everyone turns to you for direction. With more organization and training it will get better.

Agreed with the suggestions above - have a team huddle or stand up at the start. Write what each subteam or person has to accomplish that meeting. Keep goals very specific and manageable. Show your peers where you turn to for advice and help and push them to learn more on their own using those resources.


Definitely relatable and can be hard to manage a bunch of tasks at once when you are trying to move forward with something also. Unfortunately, you are probably the most qualified on your team to manage tasks and probably that is something you may have to do in a systematic way that could keep you from staying on a task.

We try to start by writing up a punch list of tasks that need worked on that day in the beginning and have 1-2 students assigned to each. It is better if they are tasks that can be finished in a session, but sometimes that is a lot to plan. We don’t do this well, but I’d say that if you have people not putting their name down, that you should suggest an assignment get them onto some task in the case that they don’t want the suggested one.

You really need a person that is checking in regularly with the various tasks to oversee what they’ve finished, is there any problems or roadblocks, do they need some instructions, etc. This is where you get hung up because some just seem to need constant help, and you can’t do it in parallel with working on a task. What you might find is that if you can establish a bit more routine you may be able to separate your task of working on something versus visiting the groups, for example, a few years ago we had a big countdown clock that we set for 20-40 minute intervals and that everyone worked for the given interval and then came together to quickly discuss progress. You may be able to get to where you could manage more that way knowing you have a little time to work with a group and then go at certain intervals for progress checks rather than having people just constantly asking for your attention.


OP may be pleasantly surprised that the do-nothing teammates do want to do something if they are specifically tasked by some semblance of a project manager (get help from parents, sponsors, etc. as others suggest and make a list of what has to get done and show them how).

I discovered that knowing what one wants and having initiative to do it isn’t well developed until about college 2nd year (more or less). I’ve tried to support anything that others wanted to experiment with. I ask what do you want to do? They have no idea - stand around and talk. If I give students a list of projects they may be able to pick some. If I say we are going to work on this project - they do it! (That’s the go to school because you have to and do the assigned homework model that they know.)


Thank you Akash, I’ve realized that there is little that I can do so far into the build season but I’m going to try all that I can