Dangers Of Being A Perfectionist At Work

I am working with a client who is having difficulties getting his work done as a manager.  As we began to dissect why, it became clear that he was doing tasks that could be delegated to other staff members.

As we discussed this further, he would say things like, “It is just easier to do it myself” or “I feel like I would be dumping on my staff” and the best reason “I really like doing that task.”

As I began to add up the time he would spend during the day doing these tasks that should be done by his staff he began to realize where his time was going and why he was not able to complete all of his work.

When it came down to it, there were two reasons why he was having problems:

1. He did not know how to empower and delegate to his staff.

2. He is a perfectionist.

Harvard Business School professor Thomas Delong says that perfectionists “actually believe no one can do it better” and “they will focus on the last two per cent excessively when 94 per cent is good enough.”

Perfectionists have difficulty in delegating work because of this.  They also have a high tendency to micromanage their staff forcing them to do things exactly their way.

According to L.A. Times writer, Donna Walters, a 10-year study of over 9,000 managers has found that perfectionism causes illness, most commonly cardiovascular disease, headaches, high blood pressure and migraines.  In addition, even though companies value the competence, commitment and intelligence of perfectionists, they can ruin the job satisfaction of other employees, delay decisions and harm businesses financially in the end.  Perfectionists are so concerned with their own needs that they lack compassion and empathy.

Not all perfectionists go to the extreme as in the paragraph above.  For my client, his perfectionism is beginning to have a bad affect on his job, which he really likes.  Learning how to control his perfectionism and delegate to others at work will be necessary for him to be able to function in his position and to retain his job.

The links below are to good articles about being a perfectionist and working with a perfectionist.

14 Signs Your Perfectionism Has Gotten Out of Control

Perfectionist In The Workplace



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