If your job requires teamwork or supervision, you’ll inevitably be forced to deal with at least one ‘get-it-right’ personality. These people tend to be technically competent, well researched, and highly professional, which makes them hugely valuable in the workplace. They go absolutely in-depth into subjects, taking huge bites instead of small nibbles.
Problem is, sometimes you really do want them to perform a quick task and not have it come back with a 25 MB attachment. And you could really do without them getting angry because you haven’t had the time to consider every single point they raised as part of your decision making.
Dealing with get-it-right personalities is tricky. Here are some tips that will help.
Who are we talking about here?
Any personality type can display get-it-right traits. But if you’re looking for the types most likely, Introverted Intuitives (Ni dominants) INTJ and INFJ, and those with Ni as a co-pilot – ENTJ and ENFJ – tend to win out.
That may surprise you. Usually, when we think of get-it-right personalities, the types that spring to mind are the efficiency taskmaster, ESTJ, and the ultimate by-the-book duty-discharger, the ISTJ. But these types do not generally demand perfection to a fault—they demand efficiency. And if they need to cut a few corners to reach optimal efficiency, they normally will be okay with that.
Ni doms, on the other hand, can fall prey to chasing unattainable standards of perfection, and that can make them very hard to work with.
On the Enneagram, get-it-right personalities tend to type as One, Five and sometimes Four. On the DISC personality test, they are likely to have high levels of Clarity; with the Big Five, it’s Conscientiousness.
These observations are generalizations, of course, and any personality type can find themselves losing perspective and slipping into behaviors that are too demanding of perfection or controlling of others. Even the laid-back INTP, for instance, can get uncontrollably nit-picky and demanding if it’s something they really care about.
What they’re good at...and not so good at
Get-it-right types are motivated by high standards, integrity, and accuracy. Taking action based on half-hearted research or incomplete data makes them deeply uncomfortable. Sitting beneath this is a fairly poor handling of emotions; ‘get it right’ types want to be seen as competent and they worry about being criticized by others for their actions and ideas.
Both analytical and creative, these people are most effective when they are given the time and space to be inquisitive, insightful and dig deep into the data. They excel at taking up challenges, and are not afraid to ask ‘what if’ questions and go down rabbit holes to find the knowledge that will solve the problem. They’re different from people who follow the textbook method, in that they tend to be highly creative in their quest for accuracy.
They’re also great at making other people show up. If someone is not taking care with their work, a get-it-right type will call them out. They may do this in different ways—some will nurture others through the problem, others will be confrontational. Whatever the approach, these types will probe deeper and demand more. And that can result in quality improvements across the team.
Like most people, get-it-right types are least effective under stress. When out of balance, they are nit-picking, demanding, and oddly aloof, which means they will criticize and seek to control the work output of others while remaining detached from the situation, and refusing to listen to reason.
Working with this personality type is amazing when it works. But when they lose grip of the bigger picture, it can be a disaster.
How do you react as a manager?
You start by telling them what not to do—”I don’t want a 20-page report, give me the one-page highlight” or, “I don’t want you to spend more than one afternoon on this.” Then, you have to actively stop them before they go too far. Take care here. Get-it-right personalities may regard any interruption in their work as a criticism of the quality or worse, as a sign of your incompetence as a boss. Or they may get offended because you are not calling upon their specialist knowledge. It’s important that you hold your ground in any standoff or the situation will never improve.
Fundamentally, get-it-right types cannot imagine how people could be 100% satisfied with an 80% result. They want everyone to be as deeply invested as they are. So there has to be a clarification discussion. You may have to tell them, “The result of this work is important, but not so important that we want it to take your focus away from other tasks,” or “This report is for people who are not as smart as you, so you need to keep it really simple!”
How do you react as a co-worker?
The best strategy is to head a get-it-right coworker off at the pass. Make sure you’re prepared in advance for work you’re doing together. If a get-it-right colleague asks how you arrived at an opinion, be prepared to explain your thinking. You may wish to prepare a pros-and-cons list setting out your reasoning, and get it over to your get-it-right coworker ahead of time.
Make sure you know your data. Get-it-right types are deeply analytical, so double check your facts. Because the get-it-right coworker sure will! Even when you are agreeing with someone, make sure you are agreeing with the data and not the person. Get-it-right types are repelled by nepotism, false flattery, or anything else that gets in the way of the cold, hard facts. Stick to the objective truth.
Above all, these personalities do not like surprises. If you know that the scope of a project or a deadline is changing, or that you can no longer do what you said you were going to do, tell them at the earliest opportunity. Get-it-right personalities like to have lots of lead time so they can do the job to the best of their ability. You’ll stress them out if you keep switching up the plan.