What about you? Are you a perceiver or a judger?
You might be an perceiver if...
- You feel more comfortable keeping your options open.
- You like to gather lots of information and look at things from every possible angle before you're comfortable making a decision, and even then you're not quite sure.
- You like to keep things loose, you don't like definite plans, and you like to decide at the last possible minute.
- Sometimes it takes a deadline or an outside force to make you commit to a path.
- You like to do things on your own time schedule, without lots of rules and regulation.
- You often "lose time" when you get into the flow of something in the moment, and thus you might often be late.
- You feel more comfortable when things are decided.
- You quickly come to conclusions.
- You don't like to sit around and ponder or debate, you like to figure out what the action plan is.
- You like to have a plan and a schedule!
- To-do lists are your specialty and you might be an organization freak who prizes your label maker.
- You may be a little ritualistic and rigid and like things done "a certain way".
- You know exactly what time it is, what you're doing when, and you hate being late so you build extra time in your schedule for unforeseen delays.
Perceivers often seem easygoing and casual and they may have a distaste for anything resembling structure, bureaucracy, processes and deadlines. Perceivers often think about long-range implications and imagine possible pitfalls. A perceiver might bring up every possibility in meetings - "What if this happened? Have you thought about this? Have we looked into this? Isn't so and so doing something just like this- we should check with them?". In their exploration of possibilities, they may overlook critical actions. Perceivers often work well when spontaneously rolling with the punches, jumping from one task to the next without a clear plan.
Judgers are often naturals when it comes to project management because they prefer to have clear plans and deadlines. Judgers often think about short-term actions and defining next steps. A judger often pushes for closure in meetings - they want to know "What's the goal? What's the measurement? What's our time line? Who's going to do what?" In their push for closure, they may miss broader implications. Judgers need everything mapped out before they begin working on it.
Now, once you understand where you fit and more about the people you're working with, how can you work better together?
Working with perceivers:
- They may want to gather a lot of data and look at things from every angle before reaching a conclusion. If you're a judger, don't try to force them to come to a conclusion prematurely, instead, use their natural tendency as a strength so your team can gather as much information as possible and have a better plan.
- They may feel uncomfortable having deadlines and tasks assigned to them without their agreement. For instance, they may want to figure out how long they think something will take before agreeing to a deadline. Respect this desire and don't force them to commit to something if they are not comfortable.
- You may need to push for clear ownership, commitment and deadlines, but do so respectfully and give them a chance to be part of the decision.
- You may also need to check in and provide reminders of deadlines, realizing that perceivers can lose track of time.
- Give perceivers tasks that play to their strengths and allow them to shine - you might intentionally ask them to look at broader implications or do competitive research and give them a chance to explore these areas before trying to define an execution plan.
- They may want to plan everything out in annoying and confounding detail - or at least it seems that way to perceivers! Relax and let them do the hard work - it's what they're good at, and enjoy the fact that you don't have to manage the giant spreadsheet.
- If you're being pressed by a judger to give an answer or commitment you're not ready to give, there is an easy solution. Don't argue, just give them a date by when you'll be ready and ask them if that's okay. Remember - they are looking for closure - so if you can't close it today, give them a date that you will be ready and they will be satisfied.
- If you feel a judger is reaching a premature conclusion, again, don't argue with them. Try to briefly and specifically state your concerns, then ask if you can do more research and come back with more information by a specific date before making a decision.
- If they're over-engineering or making plans or processes too regimented or complicated, don't just show general disgust or frustration, but instead ask them to make specific changes and see if you can reach a mutual solution.
- Give judger's tasks that play to their strengths - you might ask them to manage a project, define a new process, or lead weekly meetings.
My personal experiences...
I am a judger. I don't have a label maker, but I make a to-do list at least once a day, even on weekends. I hate being late and I know what time it is even without a watch. I like to know exactly where I'm aiming. I get frustrated when things are confusing. Here are some of the things on the job I've discovered that help me out. Because I have such a strong drive for closure and definition, I've learned I have to temper it and balance it. If I'm working on a project with other people, my first inclination may be to define the actions and the owners and move on, and I might get frustrated when a perceiver in the group starts bringing up all the exceptions and problems and what ifs. But I'm learning that if I don't stop and listen, not only am I riding rough shod over a valuable team member, I'm also missing out on valuable information! So I'm learning to allow time in my schedule for this kind of open discussion and debate before getting down to brass tacks.
For me, again, my goal is to make the most of my strengths and other people's as well and try not to impose my personal style and preferences on everyone else! While judgers help move things forward, they can often move things forward in the wrong direction just to keep things moving! Perceivers provide the counterweight and they are always there to keep watching, commenting and critiquing to make sure the direction is right. Sometimes that means a new observation or concern raised by a perceiver completely up-ends a plan already defined by a judger, but if you keep your perspective, you can see how we complement each other.
What about you? Are you a judger or perceiver? How does it affect your style at work?