4 Ways to Manage Perfectionism for Success

Perfectionism has recently been a big topic for discussion in the workplace. While perfectionists are highly motivated, dedicated workers, a study on perfectionism published in the Harvard Business Review states, “perfectionism is strongly and consistently related to numerous ‘detrimental’ work and non-work outcomes, including higher levels of burnout, stress, workaholism, anxiety, and depression.” Not only that, but another recent study of nearly 42,000 people published in the Harvard Business Review indicates that perfectionism is on the rise in the US, Canada and the UK. Now more than ever, we need great strategies to manage perfectionism in the workplace.

How do we create a work environment that supports the assets perfectionists bring to our teams while helping to shield them from the potential harmful effects that can come from perfectionism? Here are 4 ways you can create a supportive environment where perfectionists can thrive, and your team can enjoy the benefits of having those highly motivated team members among you.

1. Model a Healthy Response to Mistakes

How do you handle mistakes or a missed deadline? If you respond with grace and compassion, you’re modeling healthy behavior for your team. We are only human, right? Creating a workspace where it’s safe and normal to make mistakes can help perfectionists combat the need to achieve perfection every time on every task. At KCC, we love to remind ourselves that we don’t save lives so, if something doesn’t go the way we planned it, we find a solution and move on!

2. Set Reasonable, Healthy Goals

Make sure your team’s goals are based on working at a sustainable pace. Having an all-hands, late-night, big push to complete a job once in a while is okay, but no one can keep up that pace indefinitely. In fact, it’s a recipe for burnout, especially for a perfectionist. Energy and expectation management are key! It’s important to emphasize resilience…Like Muhammed Ali once said, “There’s nothing wrong with getting knocked down, as long as you get right back up.”

3. Perform Regular Check-ins

As deadlines approach, check in with your team, especially your perfectionists. Are they feeling a lot of pressure? Do they need help to prioritize or to break down a large goal into smaller, more achievable tasks? Jump in and offer support and ideas to make all team members more efficient.

4. Give Regular Positive Feedback

It’s easy for a perfectionist’s inner critic to become the dominant voice giving feedback on their work. Offering regular, specific, positive feedback helps keep reasonable expectations and performance front and center. Remember, perfectionists are highly engaged people. Keeping that energy positive not only helps your team member stay in a healthier state, but brings even more motivation and energy to your whole team.

Build Your Best Team

Looking for more great strategies to build an effective team? Check out our workshop on Building Effective Teams and get information on best practices and tips for fully utilizing your team’s skills, styles and talents.

Ingrid Kelada

Owner of KCC Positive Business Psychology & Happiness Expert