Some people always seem to be pushing or missing deadlines, asking for extensions, explaining how the dog ate their homework, etc.

If someone like this works for you now, either 1) fire him or 2) change him. You can begin to change him by figuring out what kind of personality quirks contribute to his bad behavior.

In a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, UCLA psychologist Steven Berglas says that chronic time abusers fall into one of four categories:

1. The Procrastinator

2. The Perfectionist

3. The People Pleaser

4. The Preemptive

Berglas argues that time abusers have problems that have less to do with poor time management and more to do with inner psychological conflict dating back to childhood. And he says your time as a manager is better spent trying to determine their root problems and helping resolve them, instead of implementing “band-aid” approaches to time management.

The Procrastinator, you’ve heard about before. This is the most common type of time abuser. The Procrastinator likely received too much false praise early in his life or career. “Oh Johnny, that finger painting is amazing! You are the best!” But now that he’s functioning in the real world, his flaws have been revealed — and he feels as if everything he does, good or not, is just a sham. So the Procrastinator invents a million different reasons to delay judgment day. Sometimes, he’ll go so far as to sabotage his own efforts. “If you don’t make it up to the plate,” Berglas explains, “you can’t strike out.”

The Perfectionist has unrealistic standards of excellence. Eventually, you will get excellent work from him — but you may go crazy or broke waiting for it. Berglas believes that this person is still ashamed that he did not meet unrealistic expectations set for him when he was a child. His perfectionism makes him very difficult to deal with as an adult.

The third type of time abuser is the People Pleaser. He’ll take on more work than he can handle, and cause problems for you and your other employees in the process. Projects that should have been finished weeks ago sit on his desk undone. Berglas says this person has a problem confronting authority. Abusing time is his way of handling his hidden anger at not being noticed or praised as a child.

The Preemptive, Berglas’s fourth time abuser, doesn’t sound like a problem at all. He’s always ahead of schedule. His work is in far earlier than the deadline. So what’s wrong? Usually, nothing. But be careful, warns Berglas. The Preemptive is a potential problem because he’ll move onto the next project and won’t be available to sort out problems and work with colleagues on earlier assignments. Berglas says this person is inherently antisocial and probably grew up in an environment where the rules were constantly changing. The Preemptive learned that if he finished things fast enough himself, he’d intercept problems and criticism before they could start.

Berglas recommends handling time abusers as follows:

1. The Procrastinator

Attack his fear of failure. Force the Procrastinator to confront his demons. Let him know he doesn’t have to worry about getting fired every time you evaluate his work — and though your feedback may not be as nice as his parents’ was, it’s not meant to be disparaging.  Finally, make him understand that you are there to help if he runs into problems he can’t resolve himself. You don’t have to become the Procrastinator’s pal and confidant, but it will help if he doesn’t live in paralyzing fear of disappointing you.

2. The Perfectionist

Flood the Perfectionist with feedback. Expose him to frequent low doses of evaluation: progress reports, updates, and so forth. This lowers his fear of ultimate disapproval. You can also encourage him to use colleagues for intermediate evaluations, so he needn’t fear showing you his less-than-perfect early drafts.

3. The People Pleaser

Consider signing up the People Pleaser for assertiveness training. Keep a close eye on his workload to make sure his time isn’t consumed by the requests of others. Tell him, “If you don’t get it as a direct request from me, don’t do it.”

4. The Preemptive

Over time, the Preemptive causes problems with morale, because he isn’t aware of how his compulsive need to beat the clock affects others. Make the Preemptive feel in control by putting him in charge of other people. This will force him to interact with them and take their needs into account. .

I take exception to Berglas’s advice in one respect. He says that time-management techniques won’t help time abusers. I disagree. Time-management techniques are essential for helping any time abuser, no matter what his psychological problems may be.

For example, requiring a time abuser to work backward from a deadline WILL help. What you’re doing is forcing him to break down seemingly overwhelming projects into a series of smaller tasks that have smaller deadlines — deadlines that you can closely monitor. That makes it much harder for a Procrastinator to procrastinate. And it exposes insecure time abusers — no matter what their fears — to feedback along the way. This technique, which is just one of the time-management techniques I use myself, has been especially helpful for the Procrastinators and Perfectionists who work for me.