What Perfectionism Is Costing Us At Work

Time: 1 minute
July 8, 2019

I remember a time where I would cite "perfectionism" as one of my weaknesses at job interviews. I thought it was such a clever response, it might as well have been code for "I have incredibly high work standards". Who wouldn't want that? Right?

Over a decade later, perfectionism is definitely something I would put in the "must work on" category.

Indeed, the Cambridge dictionary defines perfectionism as "the wish for everything to be correct or perfect".

Whether you are an employer or in any leading/managerial role, perfectionism will make your teams reluctant to be creative. We are unlikely to experiment in environments where we anticipate negative consequences for getting things wrong.

Leadership that fosters perfectionist styles can routinely set unrealistic deadlines which put a lot of pressure on others. An excessive focus on precision has a direct impact on both creativity and innovation, key drivers of high performance.

The time spent trying to "perfect" our work doesn't necessarily translate into producing something better. It can easily drain time away from other valuable activities and can get people lost in a microscopic vision of their work.

Last but not least, it's hard to keep teams and people motivated when things are "never good enough". This can translate in employees resenting the organisation for not recognising their efforts and for not encouraging them to use their initiative for problem solving (more room for error).

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