14 Mar Procrastination in global virtual teams: why it is not inevitable
You’ve multiple deadlines to meet, your Global Supply Team, although starting to gel, is hard-pressed. Your boss tells you in your performance review that you are procrastinating too much, and delayed decisions are having knock on effects elsewhere in the organisation. You know there is some truth in this as you are feeling overwhelmed with emails, reports, texts and IMs, but you resent the implication that you are putting things off as a a result of habitual carelessness.
You find a webinar promising to help ban procrastination from your work forever. The advice given e.g. ‘deal first with whatever is causing you the greatest emotional distress or fear’ and ‘think about the negative consequences of inaction’ sounds logical but doesn’t work when you get back to the real world. Your frustration builds.
How about considering the ‘problem’ from a different perspective? What if your feeling of overwhelm was a symptom of a need to think creatively? Because you are not giving your brain a chance to draw energy and joy from much of what you are doing? What if, in order to feel energised, you need to use your visual-spatial imagination in combination with metaphoric thinking? If so you could be what Katherine Benziger calls a Frontal Right thinker.
The issue may not be that you cannot, or will not concentrate but rather that what you are doing does not fit your thinking preference. As described in my previous blog about playing to strengths, in this situation your neurochemistry is working where there is a great deal of electrochemical resistance. You have mastered a skill but you are falsifying type. It’s hardly surprising then that your performance dips.
So what could you do differently as a Frontal Right thinker (and by the way there are many of you leading global teams) in order to get into the zone where concentration and decisiveness is effortless? Here are some ideas to play with:
- Identify what works for you Which activities will kick-start your day energetically and get you running on all cylinders, like a car battery that runs best when you are actually driving. This could be walking or jogging outdoors in a scenic area or listening to rousing music – in essence anything which stimulates your imagination. Rather than starting with something you dread which will drain your battery (as if you were using the headlights with the ignition off), what you are doing is creating momentum for the rest of the day. If you have kids to get off to school, you may find the task actually enjoyable if you have attended to yourself first.
- Sandwich your tasks When you really have to do something that does not fit your ideal thinking style, sandwich it between two tasks that do. So for me that would look something like this: brainstorm new ways of demonstrating the added value of global team coaching (preference), check latest statistics on social media reach (non-preference), and then host a webinar or hang-out on virtual teams (preference). In this way you are providing yourself with a cushion of good feelings and additional energy first so that the second energy-draining task takes you to neutral rather than a depleted fuel level. The third task should then restore you to a happier and more comfortable state.
- Determine team diversity What is the diversity of thinking preferences across your team? Clearly you must be able to connect and build trust with your people and inevitably many of them will also be working against their innate preference. Explore with them what tasks they enjoy and which could lift their motivation and performance. How could their ‘in the zone’ activities compensate for when you are least effective?
- Get help Find out how I can help you answer and address this key question: What is the greatest opportunity you and your team are missing as a result of ‘falsifying-type’ procrastination? How could you transform performance if the opposite were true and everyone were making more use of their thinking preferences?