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Dealing With Procrastinators

First-time managers, take note: You’ll need to master some difficult new skills as you make the transition from employee to boss. And most of these new skills can be filed under a broad category, one that includes all the forms of coaching, criticism, and behavioral modification that you’ll administer to the teams under your purview. From lateness to stubbornness to corner-cutting, you’ll need to have strategies at the ready that will help your direct reports overcome obstacles to personal and company success. And one of the most important demons you’ll do battle with on a daily basis will be procrastination. If you have a procrastinator on your team and this tendency is holding everyone back (including you), here are a few moves that can help her get past this challenge.

Understand the link between procrastination and perfectionism.

Procrastination usually stems from a form of perfectionism, a much uglier demon and a bigger roadblock to success. Perfectionists are often terrified of failure, and since they can’t risk getting something wrong or doing a less-than-perfect job, they sometimes just sit still, paralyzed and unable to get anything done at all. Reassure your procrastinators that nothing terrible will happen if they fall one degree short of perfect success. Discourage fear and remind them that doing the work adequately will be far better than avoiding it altogether.

Break down large projects into smaller steps.

If your employee is intimidated by the work ahead, reframe it for him. Instead of pointing him toward the final goal and turning him loose, break the entire project down into bite sized pieces, and break those pieces down into even smaller pieces, until each one is the size of a single baby step that can be completed in a day, or even five minutes.

Put his feet in motion.

If you complete the moves above and your employee is still in a state of suspended animation (chatting with coworkers, refilling the coffee pot, or cleaning his desk though he can already see his face in it), then you’ll need to push him toward the first baby step. A one-day (or one-hour) deadline for the first step will put his feet in motion, and once he’s taken the first step, the rest may come more easily.

Perform constant check-ins.

There’s nothing wrong with micromanaging a procrastinator during the early stages of a project. Keep one eye over her shoulder at all times until you can trust that she’s on her way to project completion. Even when you scale back your check-in rate, keep your door open so she feels comfortable coming to you for additional direction and motivation. Contact the Shelby staffing experts at PSU for more management and leadership tips that can help you move your teams forward.