How Do You Work with the Office Tweaker?

How Do You Work with the Office Tweaker?

You probably know someone who can never let well enough alone, who always has a way to do something better or differently or more? These individuals drive friends, family, and coworkers crazy because their projects and plans never quite get finished. They are continually tweaking things.

Tweakers struggle with minutiae. For them, the big picture gets eclipsed by the details, and instead of controlling the project, they get stuck trying to control relatively unimportant tasks. These are the people who often play “devil’s advocate,”  at meetings in order to call attention to their views, their importance, and their hard work.

If a tweaker is part of a group project, they may cause dissension by suggesting small and insignificant changes (tweaks) at every turn. They may actually “make work” rather than “do work.” They see themselves as necessary and valuable critics, rather than as the overly critical manipulators they are. Tweakers are certain their input is essential, and they don’t understand why others can’t see how important their role is. They may actually suffer from insecurity and tend toward perfectionism.

Working with, or managing, a tweaker is challenging. Sometimes,  letting them be in charge of selected areas or tasks is the path of least resistance. For example, do you really care where the holiday party is held or what the menu is? Are you concerned about the color the office kitchen is painted? Does the font for that report make any difference?  Items like these may not matter to most team members, but they may be of great importance to a tweaker.

On the other hand, sometimes you simply have to firmly tell the tweaker that “good is actually good enough,” that the plan is now complete, that all decisions have been made, and that the group is moving on to the next project.

Coworkers may need to employ peer pressure to keep tweaker behavior in check when working together. For a manager, this can be a balancing act. It may help to build on the strength areas of the office tweaker, and assign work and groups accordingly. Tweakers need specific goals, clear direction, and explicit boundaries. Be appreciative of their efforts and note their successes when they occur. On the other hand, calling them on their obstructive tweaker behavior when it happens, and when it is interfering with the work of the group, is equally important.

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