How to Maintain a Sane Level of Perfectionism at Your Work

  | 3 min read
perfectionist workplace behavior

Being a perfectionist is not a bad thing. It can be used to your advantage. It can drive you to improve your skills, capacities and eagerness to accomplish more. However, if not carefully controlled, extreme perfectionism can give you stress, anxiety, and negatively affect your career.

Here’s a list of common extreme perfectionist behaviors and how to overcome them:

1. Setting Unrealistic Expectations

Setting Unrealistic Expectations perfectionist workplace

The extreme perfectionists’ goals aren’t SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based). They want to move mountains without having the right implements. They are constantly disappointed with results that are not aligned with what they wanted in the first place. Perfectionist will set goals and deadlines that are clearly not attainable in a specific timeframe

Solution: Learn to set realistic goals that can be achieved within the timeframe and with the resources at hand. However, be careful not to settle for an easier deliverable.  You might be surprised with good results if you execute a project with realistic objectives.

2. Excessive Need for Control

Perfectionist have a tendency of wanting to control those they work with. Those with supervisory roles will micromanage their teams fearing that they might make mistakes. They don’t trust that others can perform as better as them. This can impact individuality, creativity and opportunity for learning at work.

Solution: Learn to trust your team to carry out their duties effectively. Take temperature checks with them or surveys to see whether you are exerting so much control over them and change your style. Remember making mistakes is not a sin but an opportunity for growth.

3. Highly Critical of Themselves and Others

Highly Critical of Themselves and Others and Yourself perfectionist workplace

Another common behavior of a perfectionists is their tendency to spot and pay attention to the small mistakes in their work or that of others. Instead of focusing on the important milestones achieved, a small glitch is what they need to start thinking that the whole project had gone horribly wrong.

Solution: Learn how to look at the important achievements. Even is there are small mistakes, don’t let them taint the success of the efforts and energy you have put into your work.

4. Unhappy With Achievements

Because everything has to be 100%, a small shortcoming will make them feel as if they haven’t achieved anything good. They always believe that they could have done so much better. They can spiral into depression.

Solution: Learn to be happy with your achievements and those of others. Always look at what worked as an achievement and seek to improve what didn’t.

5. Unable to take criticism.

Unable to take criticism perfectionist workplace

The perfectionist tends to take constructive criticism or  honest evaluation from a supervisor or a colleague as a personal attack. Criticism scares them because it might reveal the imperfections that they might have.

Solution: Learn to take criticism as an opportunity for growth. Consider criticism as something good that can improve your performance.

Mustapha Mosha
Mustapha Ally is a Community Marketing Manager at Zoom Tanzania and BrighterMonday Tanzania. He loves digital marketing social media