You know these people: the guy who sorts his paperclips by size, has a detailed to-do list and carries his organizer around like a Bible, and the woman who can find a way to make a game out of a distasteful task, but can’t find where she put the important file in the pile of chaos on her desk. The first is a judger, the second a perceiver. They are polar opposites, and yet their strengths and weaknesses balance each other.
Judgers at Work
Judgers are results-oriented and they’re very organized. They like routines, predictability, a detailed plan of action and concrete indicators of progress. At their best, they are efficient machines that crank out letter-perfect work. At their worst, they are inflexible troglodytes who can’t adapt when things don’t go according to plan, or domineering bosses who refuse to allow subordinates to deviate from “the plan.”
Perceivers on the Job
Perceivers are free thinkers who regard structure as inhibiting. They like to examine the task from all angles before deciding on a course of action, sometimes to the detriment of a deadline. They hate making decisions because it means closing off other options. Their strong suits are creativity, genuine curiosity and adaptability. On the downside, they mix work and play, don’t take direction well, struggle with organization and have trouble managing their time.
Potential for Clashes
These core differences can lead to real problems in the workplace. Judgers may view perceivers as slackers who party too much and never get their work in on time. They may feel that the perceivers are pulling the team down and ruining its reputation. For their part, perceivers might resent judgers for being demanding, rigid and unimaginative. They may feel frustrated that the judgers don’t give them the time and latitude to use their creativity to solve problems and invent new products.
Judgers and perceivers can work well together if they understand and support each other. Judgers will be less frustrated if they understand that their perceiver colleagues are not goofing off, but rather are taking time to explore multiple options to find the best solution. Perceivers will receive less criticism if they satisfy their judger colleagues' need for signs of progress by laying out a timeline -- one they will stick to -- and showing milestones they have reached along the way. Together, they can forge a formidable team. Judgers will keep processes on track, while perceivers will come up with the innovative solution that makes the judgers slap their heads say, “Why didn’t I think of that?”
A retired federal senior executive currently working as a management consultant and communications expert, Mary Bauer has written and edited for senior U.S. government audiences, including the White House, since 1984. She holds a Master of Arts in French from George Mason University and a Bachelor of Arts in English, French and international relations from Aquinas College.