Have you felt sometimes that you really are bearing the burden of the earth on your shoulders like Atlas and you can’t shrug ? Felt let down because no one would help, frustrated that you “have” to get it done because no one else will or just plain upset that you are being taken for granted ? Welcome to the world of freeloaders .. They are everywhere and come in many forms, relatives, friends, co-workers, project team members etc.

The timing of their problems will always be classic, the seriousness of it will vary according to the importance of the deadline. Just watch if you have someone, who always has a sudden emergency at home, wife, father, mother, daughter unwell just when the project nears completion time, it can happen once .. Even twice is strange and needs investigation. The freeloader works just enough to remain unnoticed.

The most classic freeloader comes in the form of a relative – sister’s daughter who lives off her uncle, cousins who have a sob story and milk it, wife who lets the husband do all the house work besides his office work because she is always unwell etc. I have known women who are perpetually unwell, some part of their body is in pain, and that’s the excuse not to work – classic freeloader and someone who likes the sympathetic attention. I have a bachelor uncle who gets dumped with all sorts of “to-do’s” but for a long time, there was one aunt of mine (a sister of his) who would happily get to run her family on his income and get him to do all the work :(:(. To top it, no one wants him married – their free source of funds, plus help would be gone. You may have a very young freeloader … Someone you have seen from birth, may or may not be your child, some close relative’s child and you love the child, refusing to see he or she has grown into a fully mature young adult but still leans on you for everything. Love should enable independence otherwise it will lead to freeloading.

At work, you have the worst form of freeloaders – they never work alone, extol the virtues of teamwork and when the team gets together to work, they are either perpetually on the phone dealing with some emergency or that day they have their little son’s first birthday or there are frequent trips to the toilet …. You know exactly what I mean, you will know the genuine in-trouble person from the freeloader. The genuine person who is probably in trouble temporarily and unable to contribute would still try and do some things, would never abandon completely. The freeloader is someone who abandons and doesn’t regret it, feels no remorse.

The place where our “freeloading” comes through fully – in one time teams 🙂 and I think many of us who may not be otherwise freeloaders, may display symptoms of freeloading. The one time project team that may not work together again or the rotating teams situation are all fertile grounds for freeloading. You may be taking a short course and a project needs to be done – one or two people take on the burden and the rest of the group benefits without making any effort, sure enough the learning is also uneven but many times it leaves the doers feeling cheated. Remember who you are comes shining through “what” you do and say – behaviour is one of the best barometer for character. Thoughts are manifest as character, you can fool with your words, but deeds give you away !

What can you do to prevent it ? Not much except ensuring it doesn’t happen in teams that you “lead” – find the freeloader and lose him or her. No team can afford a freeloader. If you are a victim of others freeloading – grin and bear it, if you can influence the outcome in some way, do it. Remember two things when you can’t change the circumstances – what goes around, comes around and the loss is for the freeloader not the doer. Get on with what needs to be done 🙂

1 thought on “Freeloading”

  1. Freeloaders in a team are dangerous in many ways – they kill the effort, mar the outcome and motivation of those who sweat and toil and are poor ambassadors of the team’s reputation.
    Lose such guys, quick!


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