Judgement, Perception and Stress

One of the causes of stress at work is a having a difference in preference for Judgment or Perception with your boss.  This is because the two types tend to have a different orientation toward deadlines.  Whether you meet a deadline is nothing to do with your personality type – the J/P difference is concerned with how you meet the deadline.

People who prefer J tend to make progress early and finish a task in plenty of time.  People who prefer P tend to leave work until it is close to the deadline (which then gives them extra energy to get the task done).  Both approaches are fine, but problems can occur when a boss and employee have opposite preferences.

An example – producing a report for a client

Suppose, on a Monday, a client asks a J boss for a report by Friday, and the boss delegates the task to a P employee.  On Tuesday, the J asks the P how things are going, expecting much progress to have been made.  But the P will be intending to leave the work until later in the week.  On Wednesday, the J asks again, but the P still hasn’t started.  This causes both of them stress:  the J is stressed because he is concerned that he may not have a report for the client; the P is stressed because the boss is on his back.

The problem can also occur the other way around.  Suppose the boss is P, and the employee is J.  Ps often find plans stressful if they restrict flexibility. Therefore, when the client asks the P boss for the report on Monday, he may decide to do nothing.  This might be for legitimate reasons, e.g. the client might change his mind during the week, so there is no point in wasting the employee’s time.  On Thursday, the boss gives it to the J, which makes him stressed because he has already planned out his time for the week and, to produce this report, he has to replan all his work.

Alternatively, the P boss might delegate the task on Monday, which the J completes on Wednesday.  However, towards the end of the week, the P suggests he include extra bits of information in the report which the client might appreciate.  This also stresses the J, because it interferes with his plans.

The solution?

If you are a J boss, you can delegate the task but give a meaningful deadline that is early.  For example, you could ask for a draft report by Wednesday evening, and a meeting to review it on Thursday.

If you are a P boss, you could delegate the task straight away but ask the J employee to reserve some time later in the week for minor changes.

These types of solutions help to satisfy both sets of needs and minimise stress.  Carl Gustav Jung would describe these solution in a complicated way – they are examples of the transcendent function that emerges from the tension of opposites. In plain English, you have found a way to keep both preferences happy.

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