Procrastinators come in many different forms, but all share one common trait - they're very frustrating to manage. Whether the source of procrastination is poor time management skills, a lack of confidence, perfectionism, a crippling fear of failure, or simple laziness, these people require extra attention to get the job done. As a manager, you're tasked with working to discover the reason your employee procrastinates, and finding an effective solution to get them to complete their work in a timely manner.
When dealing with an employee who is notorious for procrastinating, you can't simply give them a project and tell them to hand it in when they've finished it. Instead, you must set a deadline for when the completed project must be sitting on your desk. Setting a deadline will help the employee to realize this is something that needs to be completed in a timely manner, not an optional project. Create consequences they will have to face if they can't manage to get the work done on time.
For many procrastinators, it's not enough to know an upcoming deadline is looming over them. No matter how much work the project requires, they're going to wait until the last possible minute to get started. If you have someone on your team who behaves like this, you'll need to set little benchmarks to make sure they're making progress on their work. Check in with them each day to see what they've done so far and what they plan to accomplish for the rest of the day. If the employee knows you're watching them and could stop by at any moment to check the status of their work, this should motivate them to stop procrastinating and start working.
It's common for procrastinators to blame not getting their work done due to unexpected roadblocks that came at them last minute. Whether they were busy working on another project at the eleventh hour or not, you can't trust them to make such decisions regarding their time allocation. Let them know that it's up to you to decide what's urgent and what's not. Ask them to inform you if someone gives them another task, so you can decide if it should take priority or not.
Make Guidelines Clear
If your employee's procrastination issues are due to their being a perfectionist, you'll need to set guidelines for the quality and detail level expected. A perfectionist often has a hard time turning work in, because they never feel like it's good enough. They take endless amounts of time to complete assignments because they're doing extra work on it that you don't need and didn't ask for. To solve this problem, make the guidelines very clear for each assignment you give them. Explain the exact level of detail needed, so they'll have a clear vision of your expectations. Providing positive feedback on their on-time work may help to mitigate some of their anxiety about its quality.
It can be very difficult for your team to function properly when you've got a procrastinator weighing you down. As their leader, it's up to you to get to the root of the problem and figure out why your employee is constantly dragging their feet to get their work done. It may even help to talk to the person and explain the impact their procrastination has on the entire group as a whole. As most people don't want to feel like they're letting the team down, this should help them to get their act together.