Have you ever worked for a perfectionist? For someone that no matter what you do or how you do it, it is never good enough?  I know I have!  The constant eroding away of one’s self confidence usually ends up with high frustration levels and the perfectionist having an ever increasing workload.

I have been described as ‘difficult’ from time to time, and as a perfectionist but I like to feel that there is a difference between encouraging people to push themselves to find new limits and taking the attitude that it would have been better and easier if I had done it myself?  For example, to encourage people not to except sloppy first drafts but to check and double check that the presentation they are preparing communicates precisely what they want to say, first time right, is the normal role of a boss and coach.  However, this can be taken too far.

I once worked for a boss in London who kept pushing me to ever higher standards, much higher than he held for himself.  He was the worst boss I have ever had, not just because of his perfectionist demands but for the fact that he seemed to have no respect for me or, indeed, for any of his employees. And here lies the key indicator of the story,  he didn’t like us and we didn’t like him.

If you are a perfectionist that has a deep respect for the talent that surrounds you, then there probably is no real issue. From time to time you simply need to re-learn the 80/20 rule.

On the other hand, if you are a perfectionist that feels that everyone around you is either incompetent or selfishly de-motivated, not acting as part of the team, then you may need to take a hard look at yourself, before blaming others…

What are the warning signs for the perfectionist de-motivator?

a) They constantly analyze every situation

b) They make detailed plans that only they seem to follow

c) They think they communicate but forget to use their ears

d) They are completely binary: ‘it must be like this because’

e) Not many people want to have lunch with them

This is not an attack on perfectionists, there are situations where a perfectionist that has an inherent dislike of those around them can be gainfully employed, for example as safety auditors for nuclear reactor plants, or as homicide detectives, or poets, even as financial analysts on fraud investigations. But I personally would not want one as a project leader or coach again.

Have a good week,