Does perfectionism put a business at risk?


Are you uncomfortable with criticism? Can you never let go of a task? Do you frequently beat yourself up for under-performance, even when you’ve had a relatively good day?

If your answer to the above questions is yes, you might be suffering from clinical perfectionism.

Clinical perfectionism isn’t talked about in the same breath as anxiety, stress or depression. Businesses are now becoming increasingly aware of these conditions and putting in place intervention procedures to help suffering employees. Yet clinical perfectionism isn’t handled with the same sincerity; instead is of often treated as a quirky characteristic or even a bonus for productivity obsessed employers. However, whilst clinical perfectionism can be temporary beneficial, the long-run is often negative, with the condition often leading to burnout and absence from work.

Those susceptible to clinical perfectionism include business owners and managers – the people responsible for driving a business forward. The pressure to succeed is now greater than ever, particularly when we are flooded with images and new stories of successful entrepreneurs and go-getters.

Symptoms of clinical perfectionism include:

  • Set high, often unachievable standards
  • Obsession to reach goals in order to maintain a sense of self worth
  • Lack of satisfaction, even when objectives are met
  • Spending too much time on relatively unimportant tasks
  • Continually raising standards
  • Avoidance rather than face the unachievable goal

It is important these symptoms are spotted in colleagues suffering from clinical perfectionism and handled correctly, including helping them organise their workload and giving them confirmation when goals are achieved. Allowing the condition to go untreated could lead to a boom and bust cycle that will not only affect the individual involved but also the business as an organisation, with the possibility of lengthy absences from work when the pressure gets too much.

How the employer handles this situation is highly sensitive and can lead to further complications if not don’t correctly, possibly spiralling out of control. We recommend seeking specialist advice.