Berger Leadership Blog

Identify and overcome procrastination tendencies

Dan BergerProcrastination is something we're all guilty of. There are only so many hours in a day to get things done, and it's easy to push things off if we're feeling rundown or uninspired – especially if we're not looking forward to the task.

A recent article from Fast Company dives into research from psychologist and success coach Dr. Linda Sapadin, who's identified procrastination personality types. As a leader, it's important to understand which type of procrastinator you are and also which types your direct reports are so you can help them work through it.

Here are the six procrastination personalities from Sapadin and ways to overcome these tendencies:

  1. The Perfectionist: This type of procrastinator puts things off because they expect too much from themselves. They don't want to start a project until they feel they have what they need to complete it. Or they don't finish it because they don't think it's good enough. Implementing time constraints will help this procrastinator finish projects in a timely manner.
  2. The Dreamer. While the Perfectionist is focused on getting all of the details exactly how they want them, the Dreamer is too focused on the idea. Even with a deadline, making a schedule of milestone tasks will help this procrastinator finish parts of the larger project with a to-do list.
  3. The Worrier. We don't work in silos. Often, a project is dependent on other teammates' contributions. The Worrier feels like they can't complete their portion until they get what they need from someone else. Instead of sitting around – waiting and worrying – Sapadin recommends working on other aspects that will move the project forward.
  4. The Crisis-Maker. This procrastinator feels they work best under pressure – they get a rush in a time crunch. To prevent the Crisis-Maker from holding up projects, create artificial pressures (like giving yourself so many minutes to complete a task) and work to reframe their mindset by recognizing the benefits of doing something ahead of time.
  5. The Defier. Sapadin identifies two types of this procrastinator – those who outright refuse to do something and those who say they will, but don't. It's frustrating to have an employee who doesn't feel responsibility for contributing to the overall team effort. Help them overcome their defiance by framing responsibilities as a choice, rather than a demand.
  6. The Pleaser. It's hard to say no, but at some point we have to. Agreeing to do too much makes it difficult to prioritize and accomplish our to-do list. This procrastinator needs to be coached so they understand there's no shame in asking for help or turning down a request.

Running a successful business demands things get done on time. Regular procrastination puts our organization at risk of losing money or clients if a project is delayed or abandoned. Focus on creating a culture where employees can take ownership of their efforts but understand the importance of working across the aisles. Accountability is key, but so is reminding employees that no one person is expected to know it all or to do it all.

Follow me on Twitter (@BDanBerger).

About the Author

B. Dan Berger, President and CEO, NAFCU

Dan BergerB. Dan Berger first joined NAFCU in 2006 and has helped expand the association's reputation into becoming a premiere advocate for the credit union industry.

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