Many people think perfectionism is an asset that helps set them apart from others. But a perfectionist employed at a wrong place in an organisation will do more harm than good to the company. True, with his or her attention to detail a perfectionist sets high work standards, but in doing so, often, misses the priorities. Experts, in fact, consider true perfectionism as a flaw rather than an asset.
The challenge lies in either bringing them out of the perfectionist mindset or finding the right role for them within the organisation. Experts have varied opinions on perfectionists. Some feel that everyone is a perfectionist in some degree and problem arises when it becomes an obsession while some others say they are brilliant people gone out of control.
Why avoid perfectionism?
It pays to avoid perfectionism since it leads to unhappiness, as in most cases achieving perfection or being perfect is next to impossible.
The prospect of attempting to attain something unattainable is likely to put the person in a defensive mindset on the outcome of the work even before he or she begins the task.
Perfectionists are also likely to suffer from low self-esteem as they are never content with their work and indulge in self-criticism.
Further, perfectionists have difficulty delegating work, meeting deadlines and handling criticism. They can never see the big picture and hence never understand the priorities. In the end, they often end up as failures.
Kills creativity, productivity
Demands unrealistic standards
Priorities are affected
Doesn’t make you happy about your work
The key to success, according to an expert, is an understanding that failure is a normal part of growing. It’s a hurdle one has to cross while improving oneself or one’s work. “You have to make mistakes in order to grow, don’t let perfectionism paralyse you. If you’re not failing, chances are you’re not trying hard enough,” says another expert.
Now that you know imperfection is totally normal and nothing to be ashamed of, focus on first completing the task at hand and take pride in it. Set a deadline and stick to it. Learn from the failures and feedback which will help you perform better next time.
Managing a perfectionist
Experts suggest several tactics to manage perfectionists in an organisation and get the most out of them.
Appreciate: They put their heart and soul in the task and are usually committed to their work and institution. Highlight their positives while gently telling them about their negatives.
Raise their awareness: Many perfectionists don’t realise that their exacting standards are counter-productive to organisations. Managers would do well to help them recognise that they are slowing progress or affecting the morale of colleagues. Help them identify and set priorities to save time and effort.
Coach: Reforming perfectionists is not easy and you can’t expect them to change overnight. While it needs patience and care to help them change their ways, mentoring by a reformed perfectionist could be of great help. Advice from someone who was like them before could work wonders.
Give the right job: As perfectionists are well-suited for jobs that require attention to detail with limited scope, finding them a right position in the organisation plays a key role in improving their productivity and minimising their negative influence on colleagues. It helps to keep them away from complex jobs and those involving managing people.
While there are both negatives and positives in having perfectionists in your organisation, the right approach to dealing with them and finding them the right place in the organisation can help you harness their positive qualities while minimising their negative effect on others.