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Perfection isn’t always a good thing, says study


November 5, 2014
By Canadian Chiropractor staff

Nov. 5, 2014 – There are certain traits that hiring managers should consistently look for in a job candidate, like conscientiousness, accountability, and integrity, but researchers at PsychTests advise that perfectionism should not be one of them.

Most hiring managers will roll their eyes when a job candidate dutifully
states that their biggest weakness is their tendency toward
perfectionism, but what about those who declare it as their strength?
Researchers at PsychTests who analyzed the responses of 264 extreme
perfectionists and 142 non-perfectionists indicate that perfectionism is
more likely to be a liability than an advantage.

According to
data it collected using the Perfectionism Test, 66 per cent of employees
who are perfectionists are more likely to miss deadlines if they don’t
think a project is good enough, and 31 per cent have consulted a
professional (therapist, doctor) to help them with a stress-related
problem.

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In terms of job performance, 46 per cent of
perfectionists were rated as “good,” 42 per cent as “satisfactory,” and
12 per cent as “poor,” compared to 58 per cent, 42 per cent, and one per
cent, respectively, for non-perfectionists.

PsychTests’ study on perfectionistic employees also reveals that:

·
80 per cent of perfectionists are only proud of their work if it gets
praise from their boss (compared to eight per cent of
non-perfectionists).

· 84 per cent of perfectionists would rather
work on their own than as part of a group because it’s the only way to
make sure that every aspect of the work is done “right” (compared to 11
per cent of non-perfectionists).

· 89 per cent of perfectionists worry about what others think of them (compared to 13 per cent of non-perfectionists).

·
72 per cent of perfectionists believe that if even one mistake is found
in their work, they will be considered incompetent (compared to one per
cent of non-perfectionists).

· 92 per cent of perfectionists
assume their boss expects them to succeed on every task they take on,
leaving them no room to fail (compared to 24 per cent of
non-perfectionists).

· For 96 per cent of perfectionists, even
just the prospect of making a mistake at work worries them (compared to
10 per cent of non-perfectionists).

· 73 per cent of perfectionists struggle to bounce back from failure (compared to two per cent of non-perfectionists).

·
80 per cent of perfectionists believe that when a group project they
are working on doesn’t succeed, it’s typically due to the lack of effort
of other people; they do not believe that they are personally
responsible (compared to seven per cent of non-perfectionists).

·
76 per cent of perfectionists get frustrated or upset when they find a
mistake in someone else’s work (compared to one per cent of
non-perfectionists).

“What managers should be looking for, rather
than perfectionism, is accountability,” explains Ilona Jerabek,
president of PsychTests. “You want an employee who is willing to admit
mistakes and weaknesses and wants to change, learn and grow.

Perfectionists
take accountability to the extreme, and are unwilling to let go; they
have trouble overcoming the fear of other people’s opinion, of making
mistakes, and of failure.

They’re caught in a vicious cycle where
they set impossible goals and fail to live up to their expectations.
They mentally beat themselves up, and then try again to do things
perfectly. And it never works out.”

The worst part, she says, is
that perfectionists are not just hard on themselves, they are also
likely to be hard on other people, which makes them a challenge to work
with.

For those with perfectionist tendencies, experts at PsychTests suggests the following steps.

Avoid “black and white” thinking. Don't
approach a challenge or goal with an "all-or-nothing" attitude (e.g.
saying something like "I have to get this promotion or else I'll never
be satisfied with my job."). If you only see the outcome as a success or
failure you're already sabotaging yourself. As long as you learn from
your mistakes you automatically turn the outcome into a success.

Set realistic goals. If
it's your resolution to stop world hunger in five years after you’ve
climbed Mount Everest, then you'll probably end up disappointed. These
goals may sound noble, but the point is that if you set your sights too
high, your fall will be harder. Set the bar high but within reach. Even
if you don't accomplish everything you set out to do, the fact that you
did your best is something to be proud of.

Challenge your perfectionistic assumptions.
Keep
a journal of your thoughts, moods and daily activities. Write down
events that happen, how they make you feel about yourself and how you
interpret the situation. Next, consider the situation from other
perspectives and write these down too. How would someone else you know
interpret the situation?

Do a little introspection. In
many cases, people who point out flaws in others do so to feel better
about their own shortcomings. If you realize that you feel better about
yourself when you rip into someone else for messing up, then the fault
may lie in you. Try working on increasing your own self-esteem rather
than bringing down someone else's.

Train yourself to find the good in others.
Learn to note and appreciate what employees or colleagues have
accomplished rather than only focusing on what they didn’t do well. You
can encourage others without being demanding or unreasonable (“I liked
your approach to the project. The only suggestion I have is to…”).
Others will appreciate your input and are more likely to be open to
feedback if you make it a point to look for the good rather than just
the bad.