Procrastinate later! How to motivate others
Michael E. Bernard, PhD
Emeritus Professor, California State University, Long Beach
Founder, You Can Do It! Education
If you are exasperated by people who promise to do things but fail to deliver, here is how to motivate others, so they procrastinate later.
Procrastination involves you deciding or knowing that you have to do something and then putting it off even though you can see the disadvantages in the delay.
I’ve always been fascinated with the topic of procrastination for a number of reasons. To begin with, it is one of the main causes of people not performing to their full potential and not living life to the maximum. At work, it is linked to under-achievement, work dissatisfaction and even to a lower salary.
How to motivate others to stop procrastinating
“If your work is dependent on a procrastinator’s contributions, then their delays can be harmful to your efficiency and success. You may end up having to do their work, thereby neglecting your important tasks.”
For example, let’s suppose your colleague has agreed to take responsibility for the marketing of a joint venture. You spend your time putting the project together, be it a sales seminar or a new product line. As the time approaches to launch your product or service, you might find that your colleague has done little in the way of advance promotion. The result is that not only do you have to take over marketing, but the probability of the enterprise being successful is greatly reduced.
Here are 2 proven procedures that reduce the extent to which someone procrastinates:
Behaviour modification: rewards and penalties
Simply stated, if you want someone to work on and complete a particular task on time, then every time they work on and complete the task on time, immediately reward them. Similarly, to decrease their procrastination, every time they fail to start work on or complete a task on time, immediately penalise them. Now while this is obvious it’s easy to react inappropriately toward a procrastinator.
3 questions for managers to ask so they can motivate others
- What behaviour do I want from my employees?
- How will I recognise when they achieve it?
- How will I reward their diligence?
5 rewards to motivate others at work
Some of the more popular ways to make people feel appreciated: employee-of-the-month awards; certificates and citations for achieving important goals; clubs with special privileges for high achievers; favourable publicity such as a write-up in the company newspaper; change in job title.
- Time off
If the job permits, give people a job deadline and specify the quality you expect. If they finish before the deadline, the extra time is their reward.
- Favourite work
Give people more of the tasks they enjoy doing as a reward for good performance.
People are much more likely to put in the effort on boring, frustrating and unfulfilling aspects of their jobs if they have opportunities at work to enjoy themselves.
There are a large number of prizes at your disposal to reward another’s efforts, including tickets for recreational events, company products and gift certificates.
The 1-minute manager
One of the most popular procedures for managing employee behaviour was initially developed for business and industry by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson. As expanded upon in their book The One-Minute Manager, this method is based on principles of behaviour modification and assertion.
Steps to becoming a 1-minute manager
* 1-minute goal setting
* 1-minute praising
* 1-minute reprimand
To use the 1-minute manager method with an employee who reports to you and had agreed to finish a report by the afternoon but only gets it to you the next morning would have you using a 1-minute reprimand. You might say something like: ‘You know, Bob, you promised to get this report to me yesterday afternoon so I could use it to prepare for my meeting later on this morning. I’m angry that you’re late and that I won’t be fully prepared for this important meeting… [pause for a few seconds]… I know that you’re much better than this. Let’s see what both of us can do to prevent this from happening again.’ [shake hands]