Six Types Of Procrastinators, And How To Lead Them With Compassionate Accountability®
Procrastination delays progress, holds up the team, and increases chance of mistakes. Why do people do this, and how can leaders intervene positively? There are six types of procrastinators, each one requires different support in order to deliver on time; People-Pleasers, Perfection-Seekers, Responsibility-Avoiders, Thrill-Seekers, Hostage-Takers and Passive-Avoiders.
In college I used to put off studying, often until the night before the exam. Why? You might be surprised. Not because I was worried. Not because I was lazy. Not because I didn’t like studying. Not even because I had more interesting things to do. Nope. I did it because it didn’t get exciting enough until time was running out. Call me crazy, but I did my best work under the gun.
Observe different people procrastinate and they may look similar on the surface. They put off making decisions or completing important tasks, and that’s a problem. Why do people do this?
It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that procrastinators are lazy or lack discipline. Usually, that’s not the case.
Six Types of Procrastinators
Procrastination is strongly influenced by personality type. Why should you care? Because knowing this can help you understand your own procrastination tendencies and have a better idea what to do about it. As a friend, parent, leader, mentor, or coach you’ll be better equipped to help others in the most constructive ways.
In no particular order, here are six types of procrastinators along with tips for how to help them perform with compassionate accountability. These insights are based on the Process Communication Model, which teaches leaders how to adapt communication to motivate six different personality types towards success.
Harmonizer – People-Pleasers
People-Pleasers procrastinate because they are trying to find a solution that pleases everyone, or they are afraid of making a decision for fear of conflict, disapproval or rejection. If they run out of time, maybe you’ll feel sorry for them and give them a break.
How to help a People-Pleaser: Compassion doesn’t mean feeling sorry for a person and avoiding accountability. People-Pleasers need reassurance that you care about them regardless of the decision they make or the outcome of their efforts. Affirm that even if they make a mistake, mistakes are opportunities to learn and grow and you will be with them through it all. When conflict-avoidant People-Pleasers know they are unconditionally supported and OK they are more confident to move forward, even with difficult decisions and actions.
Thinker – Perfection-Seekers
Out of the six types of procrastinators, Perfection-Seekers procrastinate hoping for more data or more evidence. They get locked into analysis paralysis, believing that they can avoid a mistake if they have more information. They fear the loss of control that comes with making a decision or taking action.
How to help a Perfection-Seeker: Perfection is the enemy of excellence. For these people, compassion means affirming their thinking ability and problem-solving skills. Help them weigh pros and cons, anticipate consequences, and develop a “Plan B.” Ultimately, Perfection-Seekers need support to face the sadness and loss of control that comes with making decisions. Encourage and support them to let go and move on when more information will not help them feel any more secure.
Rebel – Responsibility-Avoiders
Responsibility-Avoiders procrastinate to avoid taking ownership or having to live up to expectations. If they struggle enough, maybe you will take over. If they run out of time, it’s not their fault.
How to help a Responsibility-Avoider: Avoid getting hooked into taking over. Avoid judging or preaching about responsibility. They key is to balance a “chill” attitude with clarity around what you want them to do. Let them know what you want, and that you’ll accept them unconditionally regardless of the outcome. Affirm their creativity in finding their own way from point A to B.
Promoter – Thrill-Seekers
Thrill-Seekers procrastinate until the stakes are high enough to make it exciting. That was me in college! If they run out of time, they’ll try to pin it on someone else.
How to help a Thrill-Seeker: Play to their strengths – make it thrilling. If you want them to meet a deadline, make it exciting by issuing a dare or prize. Challenge them to “pull it off,” make it a special assignment that only they can do. I once had a Thrill-Seeker working for me in training support. When I tried to plan ahead with her, she procrastinated. I learned to wait until the last minute to give her assignments and it worked like a charm.
Persister – Hostage-Takers
Hostage-Takers generally don’t put off their own duties, but they procrastinate on giving what others need to succeed. They focus on what’s not yet right, withhold praise, and don’t communicate clearly their desires. They confuse high standards with unrealistic expectations and hold others hostage with their chronic discontent. People-Pleasers and Perfection-Seekers are particularly vulnerable to the Hostage-Taker’s tactics.
How to help a Hostage-Taker: Recognize that beneath it all is a noble desire for excellence and high-quality. Hostage-Takers are natural protectors and want to help others be more perfect. Replace this negative energy by affirming their convictions and dedication to quality. Ask proactive questions about their standards and expectations, and invite their opinions along the way.
Imaginer – Passive-Avoiders
Of the six types of procrastinators, Passive-Avoiders procrastinate because they don’t feel potent enough to make an independent decision. They shut down, waiting for someone or something to direct their next move.
How to help a Passive-Avoider: Avoid questioning their intentions or commitment. They are externally motivated and greatly appreciate clear direction. They are more responsive than responsible, more directable than self-directed. Use clear, concise commands to find out what they have on their plate, and then direct them towards clear action steps.
Are you a procrastinator? Which of these six types of procrastinators are you?