Managers have a tough job. From dealing with unmotivated employees to mediating conflict, there are many things that keep leaders up at night. But what about someone who works too hard? The employee who does great work but procrastinates to make everything perfect. They never delegate which is why they work all hours, and even weekends, to complete a project. They fixate on every tiny mistake.
You, my friend, have run into a perfectionist.
A perfectionist employee may sound just fine—they are doing great work, after all—but they can quickly burn themselves out. They can also throw off the balance of your team, creating a culture of competition and pulling morale down.
But, with just a little help and direction, perfectionists can become one of your team’s greatest assets.
The first step to managing a perfectionist is to understand them, so check out our blog post on the common signs of perfectionism. Once you have an understanding of what drives perfectionism, you can take action to help your employees and team:
- Practice gratitude. Get to know your direct reports and how each individual likes to be praised. Some may prefer an email callout while others may like a 1:1 conversation. Give praise often.
- Offer praise for things that aren’t perfect. Praise a job well done, not a job done perfectly. Get in the habit of calling out all sorts of projects, challenges the team overcame, and the people who make the team successful.
- Promote work/life balance. Talk openly about the importance of taking time off and being with friends and family. If your team is going through a busy time, send a note, or make an announcement about taking time to relax and recharge amid the madness.
- Set them up for success. If you have a perfectionist on your team who is struggling, put them in a clear role. Set expectations with them upfront about what is their responsibility and what they should delegate. This will help the perfectionist avoid overreaching and learn to trust their teammates’ work.
- Be an example. No one is perfect, including managers. Talk openly about your mistakes and be open to feedback from your team. Avoid sending emails late at night or first thing in the morning so your team doesn’t think they need to be online as well.
Perfectionists are typically high-achievers who have great potential and just need a little help moving past the habits that are holding them back. We hope this blog post helps you manage perfectionism on your team.