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Delay unconsciously

We normally have more than one work or task on hand.  Then we prioritize them in certain order.  Sometime we find that we don’t have enough time to complete them and we need to rush them to finish or we will miss the deadline.  It is understandable that heavy workload is always the reason of delay.  But it is not always the case…

I had once come across a case of an employee problem in a company about a capable person who could never finish a task.  Before I worked with him, I was told that he was a genuis.  Because he got all “A” in his public exam and graduate with first-honour first degree and master degree.  He was an emotionally claim and easy to talk to gentleman.  He was a software engineer.  Other programmers said that he was very knowledgeable and they had never seen him anger and talking loud in 3 to 4 years time.  But he could never finish a task nicely.  The situation was getting worse in the last 2 year of his employment in the company.  No one would give him anything to do, because they believed that he would never be able to complete them.  When he was asked, he will just keep silent and say nothing. 

I worked with him myself for a few months and he suggested to changed his current role from a software engineer to a position at account department, because he was very sick of the programming work and he liked finance.  I talked to the business leader and suggested to give him a chance because he had been very loyal to the company for many years.  Since loyalty and honesty are important elements of the account department for this company, he got his second chance in the account department. 

But after 4 months time, he was commented as not performing and keep on neglecting (more serious that delaying) all important and not-so-important tasks.  The end result was an invitation to leave the company.  The leadership team asked for my comments before asking him to leave.  I told them that the reason of his performance was a pscychological problem.

Unconscious reasons for procrastination (delay) are difficult to uncover.  Based on personality tests, researchers concluded that people who are regular procrastinators may have low self-esteem, are too dependent on others, or have such a strong fear of failure that they do not start the task at all (Blunt & Pychyl, 2000).  For this employee, it is the underlying personality problems cause his poor performance. 

There was no study about this employee personal background, so we cannot directly relate his case to the following reason.  But researchers found that procrastinators tend to be raised by authoritarian parents who stress overachievement, set unrealistic goals for their children, or link achievement to giving parental love and approval.  A child who is rasied by parents like these may feel very anxious when he or she fails at some task and will be tempted to put off such tasks in the future (Pychyl et al., 2002). 

We may not know as a supervisor or parents that, we are the reason of one’s failure and affect a person life invisibly.  Thinking efficiency and intelligence are affected by many factors as you can see from this case.  If we want to create an environment in an company to nurse the thinking efficiency and harvest intelligence of people, we need to work on the environment and supervisor skill.

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