Co-authored by Annie Meachem
This is the type of person who insists on following the rules to the letter, even when it is explained to him (or her) that the situation is urgent and speed is essential. He is more concerned that he has done everything correctly, even if it means that the goal is missed. He is rigid and has no situational flexibility.
If you get frustrated with his apparent inability to grasp your need for speed and you challenge him to work more quickly, he will dig his heels in. He will match your frustration with his performance with his frustration with you for harassing him. This type of scenario can quickly escalate either into a full-blown shouting match or he will deliberately continue with his work at an even slower pace.
So how to handle the Pedantic Rule Follower successfully so that he cooperates with you and your goal is achieved?
The most important point to remember is to never challenge him to work faster or to break the rules for you. Keep any frustration you may feel with him under wraps and speak to him calmly.
Explain the situation and the deadline, and the cost of not meeting that deadline, and ask him if that cost can be afforded. Give him the responsibility for finding a solution for you so that he feels his wisdom is valuable and valued. Give him the feeling that he is the one who has the power to affect the outcome of this situation.
The pedantic rule follower’s fear is of being criticised for being wrong, and thus not being accepted or approved of. Therefore to avoid this he wants to do his work perfectly. But for him to be able to work perfectly he needs to work on his own plan and plan his own deadlines. Once he knows the deadline then he is clear on how to make a plan of his own; working on his own priorities and also deciding on what to do and what not to do.
By asking him to help you solve your problem with the reassurance that you accept he has to work within the existing rules, you are empowering him to use his intelligence to find a creative solution for you. The feeling of being powerful releases his ability to think creatively and gives him the power of situational flexibility.