Perfectionism: Friend or Foe?

Welcome to the first AHA! newsletter! I recently have had an AHA! moment about perfectionism, so this month’s article is about being a perfectionist.What exactly is perfectionism? Some might say perfectionists hold themselves and others to very high standards, possibly even unrealistic standards. Others say that there is nothing wrong with wanting to do things well with few or no errors. I believe the answer is how your quest for perfection affects your daily work and quest to achieve your goals.

I am a perfectionist. I admit it! My perfectionism has driven me to do my best and go further in my career. It has pushed me to never be satisfied with what I have achieved because I can always do more, better, and bigger. Is this a good thing? I think so. However, perfectionism can also hold you back and be time consuming. How often have you stopped work on a project because it isn’t perfect? Has your perfectionism interfered with you reaching your goals because you felt you needed additional information or training before you took the leap?

There are many different levels of perfectionism. Below are some work scenarios where perfectionism may drive you forward towards success or halt your progress.

Perfectionism and Procrastination

It may not make sense that a perfectionist can also be a procrastinator. Perfectionists typically need a lot of time to get projects done because they want to make sure they have plenty of time to gather all necessary information and produce an error free product. Then, how come we often find that perfectionists tend to procrastinate? It is a coping mechanism. If we procrastinate, we are not leaving ourselves enough time to create a perfect product. We are then forced to quickly complete the project without time to research every angle. In the end, we often produce a good quality product without all of the additional time and work we told ourselves we needed.

How much stress and time do you think you could save if you started and completed the project as if tomorrow was your deadline? The next day you would have time to review your work to make sure it meets your standards.

Perfectionism and Employees

Have you ever had a boss who was a perfectionist? I have had quite a few. They pushed me to be my best and always found ways to help me make my work better. I appreciate it now, but sometimes resented the feedback as the employee. Perfectionists expect the best from themselves, but often expect the best from their employees as well. As supervisors, we may see our employees as an extension of ourselves. We want our output to be perfect and therefore expect our employee’s output to be perfect as well.

If you are a perfectionist, receiving constant self-critiquing feedback may be routine for you. You may even find it motivating. Your employees may not. Should you hold your employees to high standards and push them to do their best? Of course! Just be aware of how often and how far you are pushing them. They may stop listening if you find fault more often than you give praise. To you, as the perfectionist, your feedback is given to help them improve. If too much critical feedback is given, an employee may feel you don’t think they are the right fit for their job. Keep this in mind the next time you are reviewing an employee’s output. Another approach that is effective is to ask the employee to review their own work and if there is anything they would do differently next time. This gives the employee the opportunity to show you that they know there is room for improvement.

Are you a perfectionist? If so, do you focus your perfectionism to catapult you forward or allow it to stand in your way?


About Andrea

Andrea Hoffer brings a unique perspective to consulting and training. A small business owner with 35 employees herself, she knows first hand the everyday challenges of motivating employees, exceeding customer expectations, and meeting business and revenue goals.


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