Personality-backed Ways to Help Your Employees Stop Procrastinating

Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on April 18, 2022

This blog post is part of our Truity at Work series for those who are new to people management. In these posts, we’re creating useful content for managers and teams alike, helping you to understand personality, improve communication, and navigate conflict and change with ease. For an overview of the series, start with our introductory post here.

One of the frustrating things a new manager has to come to grips with is staff not delivering work on time. 

There are two parts to this process. Firstly, the delegation process: ensuring our employee clearly understands the task they have been assigned takes more communication skills than simply issuing a directive and letting them get on with it.

Assuming this process has gone well and you’re only hearing crickets in your office, then it might be time to consider whether your employee might be procrastinating. Procrastination is a fairly normal process for everyone, and each type does it for different reasons. 

Why do people procrastinate?

When someone is assigned a task they know they can do and how to do it, they will feel confident completing it. And unless they are overwhelmed with work, it will usually happen within the required timeframe. 

If they don’t feel confident, because they either lack the skill or the knowledge, then it will fall down their list of priorities. 

When it comes to type, what we all struggle with are our non-dominant preferences. For example, Thinkers are more likely to put-off tasks associated with relationship building, and Feelers are going to need more time to complete analytical tasks. 

So if you have a staff member that regularly procrastinates, it can be useful to take a look at their type preferences and the skills associated with the tasks they have been assigned. If there is a clash between those two things, you may need to step in to provide some coaching or switch up the allocation of tasks. 

What do we procrastinate on?

We all avoid the kinds of tasks that don’t come naturally to us. And we can see that more clearly through the lens of type. Let’s look at why each preference might procrastinate. 

Extraverts are more likely to procrastinate on a task that requires reflection and contemplation, where they need to sit down and quietly think things through. They would rather explain the issue to someone and talk it through. 

Introverts are more likely to put off making phone calls, attending social gatherings or simply be late to meetings they consider irrelevant. They prefer to take the time to think things through. 

Sensors are more likely to procrastinate around brainstorming, visioning or considering the future. They would rather be constructive, whether that’s managing data, updating a procedure or reviewing the budget. 

Intuitives can procrastinate on practical tasks that focus on the here and now, including gathering facts, routine or repetitive tasks, or double checking the fine print. They would rather speculate on what will happen next week, redesign a system to increase productivity or imagine how the finished product will look. 

Thinkers might procrastinate on activities that require some interpersonal nuance, dealing with personal problems or building relationships.  They would rather have a debate about the new marketing strategy or analyze the results from the recent research project.

Feelers are more likely to procrastinate about having to deliver bad news or critique someone’s work. They would rather focus on making sure everyone has what they need to do their job, or smoothing troubled waters.

Judgers procrastinate on activities that involve adaptability, last minute changes and chaotic environments. They feel more comfortable following the methodology, ticking things off their to-do list and staying on schedule.

Perceivers can procrastinate around getting organized, scheduling and planning. They find it much more enjoyable to look at options and explore alternatives.

What can you do about procrastination?

So we all avoid things that don't come easily. But as a manager, what can you do about it? Firstly remember, you can’t change anyone’s type. A Judger isn’t about to become a Perceiver, nor is a Perceiver about to become a Judger.  

Instead, think about the task in terms of the preferences or skills it requires. It is more natural for us to develop skills associated with our preferences, and ignore the skills required by our non-dominant preferences. Then compare the person’s type to the needs of the task.

For example, imagine you’ve assigned an analytical task to a Feeler. Consider how you might support them to complete the activity. Feel free to draw on their strengths in the other preferences to help. What are they worried about? What skill development do they need? Do they need to talk it through first? Do they need a plan? 

By talking about the task in terms of type and preferences people don’t feel blamed, but can understand why they are struggling. By seeing their task as a skill they haven't developed yet, they can adopt a learners mindset rather than expect themselves to be an expert.

Read to learn more? The Truity at Work Platform has personality assessments tailored to the workplace – with in-depth reports that will help you identify core personality strengths and workplace skills for every member of your team. To go beyond the assessments, we also offer custom training sessions to help you put the test results into action in a live, facilitated Zoom-based workshop. Click to book a virtual workshop or drop me a line at training@truity.com.

Samantha Mackay

Samantha is the Lead Trainer at Truity and will shortly be a certified Enneagram Coach. She believes our personality is the key to navigating life's strangest hurdles. Despite her best efforts Samantha is an ENTP and Enneagram 7, who is always surrounded by a pile of books, a steaming cup of tea and a block of her favourite chocolate. Samantha is currently studying with Beatrice Chestnut and Uranio Paes of CP Enneagram Academy undertaking their Professional Enneagram Certification. Currently located in Auckland, New Zealand. Find her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/samanthamackay/. Check out her course "Unlocking the Power of Your Personality" at www.truity.com/training

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About the Clinical Reviewer

Steven Melendy, PsyD., is a Clinical Psychologist who received his doctorate from The Wright Institute in Berkeley, California. He specializes in using evidence-based approaches in his work with individuals and groups. Steve has worked with diverse populations and in variety of a settings, from community clinics to SF General Hospital. He believes strongly in the importance of self-care, good friendships, and humor whenever possible.

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