10 Ways Perfectionism Hurts Teams

Linda ReyesForbes Coaches Counsel

Perfectionism can easily plague a workflow. In an effort to have the best possible product, service or feature, some team members may try to achieve perfection. Unfortunately, it can be to the detriment of the group and the project.

We asked members of the Forbes Coaches Council how they handle perfectionism in the workplace. The advice given offered insight as to what about perfection slows down a team and how it can hurt the team and the project in the long run.

All photos courtesy of Forbes Councils members.

1. Deadlines Missed

I’ve seen a number of projects miss their deadlines due to a leader’s habit of perfection. No matter its intent, perfection tends to introduce self-doubt and erodes confidence in well-meaning teams and employees. Instead of focusing on perfection, which is subjective, teams should rely on an objective system of checks and balances to make consistent progress. – Ali MerchantAli Merchant 

2. Collaboration Suffers

If nothing is every good enough or right in your mind, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy that hurts others and, in turn, hurts you in the process. “My standards are so high,” you might say out loud or in your mind. Wait. Ask yourself: “By saying that, does that mean others’ standards are low?” Be careful about this perfectionism mindset. It can hurt collaboration and relationships at work. – John M. O’ConnorCareer Pro Inc. 

3. Respect Diminished

Everyone makes mistakes, and no one likes to be corrected in public. If you need to correct someone, it should never be in the public eye because the group dynamic will be negatively impacted. Respect the person enough not to embarrass them, because you would not want someone to do this to you. Even as a leader, you need to show humility. You created the team to make better decisions. If the leader tries to show that they are always right, it may become contentious, and the goals of the team will not be met.  – Kathleen HoulihanDream2Career

4. Innovation Stunted

Perfectionism stifles innovation. Perfectionism rejects anything that falls short of mastery. And how do you achieve mastery? This answer is repetition. For some tasks, mastery is and should be the goal, but if a team needs to innovate to stay competitive, the leader who demands perfection will find it difficult to make the necessary mental and operational shifts. – Trellis UsherT.R. Ellis Group LLC 

5. Decision Making Slowed

Perfectionism will cause the leader and the team to become slow in decision making. Good decisions help to make a great company. When leaders in the company fear making a wrong decision because it is not perfect, everything in the company gets slower. Business success is often about speed and quick decisions. Leaders should value people progressing rather than people being perfect. – Ken GosnellCEO Experience

6. Good Ideas Squelched

Creativity and innovation often come from a messy process where people are encouraged to brainstorm and take risks and are given freedom to make mistakes. Perfectionism is the opposite. Great ideas are squelched in place of being consistently right. Stealing and corruption is an unfortunate outcome of perfectionist cultures. – Beth KuhelGet Hired, LLC

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