Two habits I find to be lethal around the office: Procrastination and Perfectionism. They waste time, money and energy. Procrastination is the habit some people have of delaying tasks for no good reason except that they keep coming up with excuses why it should wait. Sometimes it is because they think they can’t do it but they don’t want to admit it, because it is a big task and they are unable to divide it to smaller manageable tasks, because they are wasting their time on other issues that don’t really matter, because they don’t like the task but can’t say, …. so many reasons for procrastination and the result is delaying work, missing deadlines, increasing project budgets, increasing costs, angry customers and so many other negative effects.
Perfectionism is also another lethal habit, it is when a task takes too much time more than it should because the person wants it to be 100% perfect, so he keeps revising his work too many times and he always finds something to fix even if it is not relevant or effective. One of the reasons of procrastination is also perfectionism, people tend to wait until it is the best time to do the job and finish it perfectly well and this time never comes! Of course perfecting your work is a must but when it turns into a negative thing that makes you take double the time to finish a task you must stop and ask: Am I spending my time right?
Every job must take its right time to finish it right no more and no less. Taking too much time under the claim that I am perfecting what I am doing is actually too much a cost to handle. Companies can actually lose a lot of money and customers because of missing deadlines.
So how can we handle employees with such habits?
1- Make sure they are doing the right job for their character. They should not be involved in any job that requires writing documents, offers, presentations, doing designs,….. Anything of the sort will take forever to finish and they will never get it done.
2- When assigning a task for such people never assign big tasks at once. Divide any big task to smaller manageable ones and give them the small ones, one by one
3- Don’t tell them the real deadline, but rather make it a sooner tighter deadline to make them start feeling guilty for being late before your actual deadline.
4- Keep explaining the scope and aim of the task and reminding them of it so that they won’t go on perfecting irrelevant details and to make sure they understand the task at hand 100% so that they won’t procrastinate because they can’t do it.
5- These people must be handled with care. Never tell them in the face that they are wasting time and costing the company money but rather try to encourage them and give positive feedback about their work but at the same time keep reminding them of the time factor.
6- Assign check points with every project they are involved in and don’t wait for the delivery date to check on them. Check points will make you evaluate the work done on intervals and remind them of the deadline. Keep pushing on the time factor but gently without stressing them out. Most probably people with these habit if stressed out will delay even more.
7- Give them training courses on time management.
Sometimes employees with such habits produce very high quality outcome but their throughput is the problem, so don’t lose them or get rid of them but rather try hard to get the best out of them.
But what if you keep trying and they keep wasting time and increasing your costs? what if it starts to threaten your business and reputation in the market? what then? Needs thinking especially in the case of perfectionists. I would say if you keep trying and there is no other way but to replace this employee then do it because at one point of time you will regret the lost opportunities because of them.