The perfectionist employee:  If you receive work from a perfectionist, you will probably be satisfied with it. This characteristic type wants to do his job as well as possible. In our society, perfectionism is often seen as good quality. A perfectionist employee sets the bar higher for himself than an average employee. He really wants to get the best out of himself and wants to be fully committed to the company. But does the employee also experience it as a positive characteristic? As a manager, how do you deal well with perfectionism in the workplace?

Perfectionism: Positive or negative?

Perfectionism is positive for you as a manager because a perfectionist likes to devote himself with heart and soul to your company. There is nothing wrong with someone who wants to get the best out of themselves, but they must remain realistic and set achievable goals. It costs the employee a lot of time and energy if he goes too far in this and cannot be satisfied. It is never good enough. He does not consider himself successful enough and the others always do better than he does. Perfectionism that initially seemed positive could then turn into a negative trait.

Also, see how you can help an employee who is unhealthily dedicated to their work

perfection in the workplace

Recognize a perfectionist employee

If an employee is a perfectionist in his work, he always – always wants the best result, even if he has little time. He wants to do almost everything well. Or maybe it is not necessarily about him doing well, but in this way, he protects himself against the feeling of not being good enough. He tries to protect himself from criticism and shame by doing everything perfectly. In this way, perfectionism can break into fear of failure.

A perfectionist employee does not dare to take action because he is afraid of the opinion of others. You will recognize this as procrastination with him. Perfectionism also causes fear of making mistakes. As a result, he does not dare to do new things and he will not learn anything. Often a perfectionist employee takes criticism personally and can become quickly disappointed if something goes different than expected. He struggles to be satisfied and remains too busy with details that might not matter at all. Being a perfectionist costs him too much time, energy and stress. In the long run, he will no longer enjoy his work.

Also, read about an employee with fear of failure


A perfectionist employee:

  • Has trouble making decisions
  • Hard to get started
  • Needs a lot of reflection time
  • Has difficulty with some decisions of his supervisor
  • Complete relatively fewer tasks
  • Find it difficult to work together

Helping a perfectionist

As a manager, you can help a perfectionist employee to let go and put things into perspective. Of course, you want the best results from your employees, but do not give them the feeling that it should always be better and it is never good enough. Rather, let your employees know if you are satisfied with their work. Express your confidence and give them room to make mistakes. If you have to give negative feedback, introduce it well, so that he does not take it as a personal criticism. It is also good to clearly state what the requirements and expectations are. State what the essentials and details are so that he will not lose himself in details and he will learn to keep a better balance between quality and quantity.

perfectionist employee how to

Tips for a manager:

  • Have a perfectionist supervisor make dosed mistakes
  • Give the right example in balance
  • Let the perfectionist employee see the bigger picture
  • Provide a well-defined structure within which you can work
  • Be open and clear in expectations

Read more about sustainable employability

Who are we?

Milltain supports, with a team of experienced trainers, organizations in the prevention of stress and the (re) finding of work happiness in the workplace. Our training courses are aimed at managers within companies. A burnout quickly costs the organization € 70,000.

In addition to financial suffering, human suffering is great. Not only for the employee but also for close colleagues who have to deal with the blows. Before you know it you are in a negative vicious circle.

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