How Perfection at Work Fails Employees

Picture this: This is your first day at a new job. You make it a point to be the first one to enter the office and the last one to leave to make a good first impression. Over the course of your workday, you triple-check your work to ensure no errors are being made. You check in with your teammates every so often to make sure that they don’t need you for anything by the time you leave the office. You make it a point to be meticulous about everything because you want it all to be spot-on perfect. According to social psychologist Thomas Curran, “we tend to hold perfectionism up as an insignia of worth. The emblem of the successful.” Would you like to know a secret? Nothing can ever be “perfect”. There is no such thing as “spot-on perfect”. There is always going to be room for improvement. There is always going to be something that we can find to continue striving for the unachievable ideal of perfection. This blog will help break down the harmful and impossible goal of striving for perfection, especially in the workplace.   

Perfection at Work and its Associated Expectations

When it comes to setting standards and expectations, we learn to set unrealistic ones from a young age at school and college. According to social psychologist Thomas Curran, “young people report a strong need to strive, perform and achieve at the center of modern life.” A perfect achievement would be getting into a top university, graduating with honors, getting a job at a top organization, and further soaring with flying colors from there. Perfectionists are unfortunately brainwashed to believe that nothing else matters. Employees misunderstand that their grades define their skills and capabilities for the professional working world. The expectations they set for themselves take over their mental capacity because they are so unrealistically high. Employers expect more than just a school and college degree on an employees’ resume. They are eager to know what they like to do for fun and how they spend their time outside of the office.

Perfectionism and Stress

The phrase “my way or the highway” is a dangerous work culture to set for employees. There is no one right way to do things. Most perfectionists think that their way is the right way for doing things. Change does not sit well with perfectionists. However, change doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. Getting a job at a top organization does not necessarily mean that the employee could fit right with the organization’s culture. Employees want to feel excited about coming to work every day. Building a sense of community through these common values and standards for work will make your employees feel connected to the organization, supporting their productivity and relationship to the company.

Perfection at Work in Team Relationships

The friends you make at work can last a lifetime. According to Entrepreneur, “often times perfectionists not only demand perfection from themselves, but for others around them as well.” This can cause a lot of problems when it comes to working together. Teammates are a wonderful distraction and support system. At work, your teammates see your good, bad, and ugly times. Most importantly, they have your back. They support you when you need it the most. Your teammates are your lifeline when you’re having a rough day. If we’ve learnt anything from this pandemic, it’s to value relationships, both personal and professional. Making small talk such as “How’s your day going?” or “How’s your family?” or “How is your health?” assures employees that their managers and directors care about their mental and physical health.

Perfectionism and Workaholic Tendencies

As much as perfectionists desire time for their personal lives, they feel like asking for that time is a crime. To them, work comes first. Work comes before anything. When they join their first job, they want to believe that they will give it their all, which to some means sacrificing their personal time. There is that little voice going off in their head, “Weekdays are not meant for fun. They’re meant for work.” They start believing that weekends are the only time for them to enjoy their personal life. Perfectionists believe themselves to be workaholics. This doesn’t need to be true. Work may not always be a bed of roses. But the best way to cope with it is to take care of yourself first.

Addressing Perfectionism through Employee Experience

The trait of perfectionism can bring out the best and the worst in your employees. PxidaEX is a great tool to understand what employees prioritize in terms of their work ethic and task management systems. Make sure your company is promoting a healthy culture of productivity and balance, and gauge that balance through an effective feedback channel, like PxidaEX. Sign up for a free trial today!