Slower up front equals faster down the road


Many of us will be well acquainted with 'driver' personalities who want everything done now (some even want it done yesterday). Often known as Type-A's, they push and prod, manipulate and intimidate. If they have no challenge confronting them at the moment, they get bored and seek one out.

I asked one such manager if he thought he was addicted to urgency. He went beyond agreement. He told me he thrived on adrenaline and didn't know if he could live without it.

What we're talking about is the stereotypical entrepreneur or manager. This type often sets unrealistic (or unnecessary) deadlines simply because they believe they work best inside a pressure cooker. When they get mad, most everyone gives them a wide berth - especially if they've ever fired someone in a fit of anger.

Despite being viewed as intimidating bullies by some, these people get a lot of things done. They'll do whatever it takes to get results.

Yet it's this very trait that gets them in trouble: Because they focus on results, they're often elevated to positions of leadership. So, it's easy for them to think that their organizations would be more successful if everyone else were more like them.

Picture the entire world comprised of high-pressure task-focused people. Who does the detail work? Who keeps company teams from killing each other? Who encourages?

Let's consider that perspective for a moment. Picture the entire world comprised of high-pressure task-focused people. Who does the detail work? Who keeps company teams from killing each other? Who reviews the full scope of numbers to make sure we're not blowing the budget? Who looks back to make sure all the bases are covered before declaring a project done? Who encourages?

Obviously, a Type-A world wouldn't work. As it stands right now, Type-A's make up about 18 percent of the population. Thus, to gain greater effectiveness and greater efficiency, Type-A's must learn how to optimally engage the other 82 percent.

One good approach is to remember this fact: slower up front equals faster down the road. It seems counter-intuitive, but truth is truth.

For example, well over half the population likes higher levels of human interaction than Type-A's do. Yes, dealing with people takes time that task-focused Type-A's don't like to give, but leaders can't lead if no one is following. The solution? Take time to acknowledge individual input. People will be more committed to the cause.

In other words, slower up front means faster down the road.

Another example is setting very tight deadlines and then not coping well when "stuff" happens. When delays occur (and they do), work stops or slows down. Since they want to conquer problems, Type A's often pull out their weapon of intimidation to get things rolling again. This can backfire! People who distain confrontation may disengage, or worse yet, resort to passive aggressiveness. Such behavior is aggressive in return, but uses passive methods that can be explained away innocently if challenged.

Such passive-aggressive responses may include sitting on an order to delay delivery even further, or feigning ignorance of what's expected.

Instead of using threats or coercion, Type A's do well to remember that slower up front equals faster down the road. Working with people to find solutions instead of pushing them wins people over. Again, it takes more time and effort than Type-A's like to give, but one gets more flies from honey than from vinegar.

Finally, just in the course of day-to-day operations, task-focused Type-A's gain support by letting other styles contribute in their areas of strength:

- Analytical types want to analyze. Let them. Sure, it takes extra time, but they may uncover a hidden problem and save even more time down the road.

- People-people want to connect with others and encourage them to get engaged. Sure, some time-consuming idle chit chat occurs. But in the long run, people who are engaged offer more dedication to results than people who aren't. That investment of time pays off down the road.

- Most overlooked by Type-A's are the quiet, steady workers who don't call attention to themselves. Their dedication produces much of the work that Type-A's don't want to do. Although they don't ask for it, these people like an occasional acknowledgement.

Again, it takes extra time to verbally recognize someone's input, but ignore a person's hard work and over time his commitment levels wear thin—with correlating reductions in productivity.

Bottom line, people appreciate the results-focused, no-nonsense approach that Type A's bring to the table. If Type-A's can appreciate what everybody else brings - and take the time to acknowledge it - effectiveness and efficiency are more likely to rise to levels that Type-A's appreciate.

Let me say it one more time: slower up front equals faster down the road.

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About The Author

Dan Bobinski
Dan Bobinski

Dan Bobinski is a training specialist, author, and an accomplished keynote speaker. He's been providing management and leadership training to Fortune 500 companies as well as smaller, regional concerns for more than 20 years.

Older Comments

Somebody PLEASE tell my boss this! In fact, maybe some brave sould should just get her to read this!

Emma T

As a type A I find this very timely and well-expressed. Relieved to find I'm onto most of these issues - a happy accident more than anything - but really grateful for the heads-up!

Michael Bayler