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Perfectionist in organisations

Updated: Jul 22, 2019

Perfectionism is quite common in most of the organisations where high performance in fast paced environment is constantly required. Staying long hours to have ‘everything’ done, taking over too many responsibilities, avoiding taking time off - that are just a few symptoms that we can notice watching working perfectionist.

‘What is wrong with that’ - you might ask? All organisations dream of employees like that. They are for sure fully dedicated to company mission. The downside of being a perfectionist is that a person who is highly involved emotionally within their work can oversee their own needs like lack of sleep, tiredness, disconnect from family and friends etc. That in long term with have quite a big impact on employee performance levels.

As a coach when we notice our coachee might have some prefectionists’ treats we can work with them on self beliefs.  


It is hard to believe however prefectionists very often do procrastinate... I know! Surprise, surprise! :D Many of us have a tendency to put things off for a variety of reasons. For a perfectionist there is something different from how they perceive their work. They will procrastinate due to the fear that the output work will not be to the highest standard that they hold. They will spend more time planning things in their heads and assuming for things to go wrong instead of just trying.


All-or-nothing thinking is another example which might hold back the perfectionist. They imagine that if things will not go their way and not appear to be perfect, they will be seen as failures.


Fear of failure is another peril of perfectionism. Person with this tendency has a highly scared

to be rejected, be criticized or be disapproved. They always want to shine and do not give anyone an option to see any sign of weakness.


Mistake is also not an option in perfectionist world. It does not matter if it is the person

himself/herself or others. They will spend hours to check the reports, corrects the spelling,

adjusting the colours of the PowerPoint presentation to the point when the work will be

perceived by them as of high standard. This might get them into trouble with the co-workers

(how many times we can review the same report) and not complete tasks on time.


What also could stop the perfectionist from doing things is conditional acceptance. The person could keep saying to him/herself – I can only be good when I get the best results from my exams; I will be attractive only when I lose one stone etc. As they focus on the output and not planning on the different scenarios that might happen along the way, they can lose importance of enjoying things that happen during the process.


Extreme perfectionist will not be happy with themselves even if they have a whole bunch of successes on their account. Once achieved they would be forgotten, just to be replaced with the new ones. That will keep them unsatisfied and continuously striving for impossible


How we can improve the above outcomes of perfectionism?

1. Working on time management. If you are working on a project schedule some milestones that are feasible. If needed - discuss them with your manager.

2. Perfection does not exist! You will always find something that can be improved. Try to develop ‘good enough’ thinking.

3. It’s ok to fail or make mistakes. Since we are little we learn simply by making mistakes. Before we walk we need to fall a few times (or rather a few hundred times). This does not tell us that we are complete failures but just show us what we should not do… 

4. There is no single person that is good at everything! Give yourself some space for specialisation. There are people better than you in your area of interest? That is good! Try to compete with yourself. You already achieved things you were dreaming off!

5. Be happy with your achievements no matter how small they are! You can even reward yourself with little gift. 

I hope that was helpful and shed some light to perfectionism. What? You are thinking if you are perfectionist now? We all have some of those tendencies. However, as long as we know and accept them then we can start working on them. 

Much love! 

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