It’s not unusual for employees to be driven to succeed, especially in a company which is striving for success and prides itself on hiring highly motivated staff. But, according to new research, reaching for perfection isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

While you might think that perfectionism is a personality trait that would be productive, you would be mistaken. Studies conducted by York St John University and the University of Bath have shown that perfectionism can be a destructive force.

Perfectionism Is A One-Way Ticket To Burnout

Extremely high personal standards and goals? Your own worst critic? If that sounds familiar, then perfectionism may be an issue. In the workplace, perfectionists tend to be those putting themselves under immense pressure to reach goals that others perceive to be close to unattainable. In doing so they may spend copious amounts of time working on a task and going into meticulous detail.

There’s no arguing that in the short term, perfectionism could achieve excellent results here and there. Unfortunately, in the long-term, it’s a very dangerous personality trait. Perfectionism is very closely linked to burnouts, which happens when stress levels hit the roof leading to fatigue and withdrawal.

Perfectionism And The Workplace

Employers have to take some responsibility for the perfectionism epidemic. Modern workplaces are often highly focused on performance outcomes and employee performance is closely monitored. Highly charged work environments are counter-productive. While they may be striving for better results, perfectionism and work stress produces poorer performance.

Dr Thomas Curran, who co-authored the research, said “We suggest its [perfectionism’s] effects can be managed and organisations must be clear that perfection is not a criteria of success. Instead, diligence, flexibility and perseverance are far better qualities.”

Don’t Burn Out, Take Time Out

Perfectionism may be part of a person’s make up, but it can be exacerbated by employers who are results driven and have high expectations of staff. Innovative companies, just like Google, can look at ways to achieve results by decreasing workplace stress.

1) Take Time Out – Asking employees to work overtime isn’t good for productivity or performance. The most productive employees are those that have time to take a break. Encourage staff to take their annual leave and recharge their batteries, and never keep them late in the office, and you’ll see an improvement in productivity.

2) Depressurize Work Environments – Look for alternative work environments to take away some of the stress. This can be as simple as changing office lighting, to bigger moves towards remote working and flexible working hours. Flexible working arrangements can boost workplace productivity by 71%, not a figure to be sniffed at.

3) Take Failures on the Chin – Instead of chasing results by micromanaging and reacting negatively to missed deadlines, encourage employees to take charge of their own work and use failures as an opportunity for improvement, not as an excuse for loading on more pressure. Use failures to your advantage and work on strategies to avoid them in the future.
Bearing these three points in mind could be the solution to mitigating the negative consequences of high pressure work spaces and perfectionism on the part of management and employees.

IMAGE: BIGSTOCK

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