Nov 25, 2011

Perfectionist Feedback

Giving feedback to perfectionists is tricky business. Here are some ways to approach it:

Be clear about your goals and expectations for their work. When left to their own devices, perfectionists may fall into the trap of setting unrealistic expectations for themselves.

Encourage a perfectionist to share a work-in-progress with you. Perfectionists are notorious for wanting to show only end products, fearing that a work-in-progress might be seen as the best they can do.

Perfectionists can be obsessed with not wanting to make mistakes. An unhealthy perfectionist can lose sight of the difference between a minor mistake (finding every spelling error in a 20-page, in house report) versus a major error (misspelling the name of a client in a one page marketing ad). As a manager, underscoring the value of focusing on weaknesses as an opportunity to improve performance can be critical in keeping them on track. Also, help to soften or deflect a perfectionist's excessive self-criticism by highlighting what you like about the work he or she is sharing with you and engage in some brainstorming about ways to address what is still missing.

Sometimes perfectionists get stuck because they use the same strategies over and over again, even when they stop working or aren't working in a particular context. In this case, acknowledge the individual's effort (i.e., how hard he or she is working), but encourage a shift in strategy. More is not always better. If more isn't paying off, it is time to try something different.


  1. Perfectionists are far from perfect.

  2. I love the picture, it says volumes!!!!!
    we all have a little of the perfectionist in us.

  3. I was sent here to read this today buy one of my commenters b/c I had said I was a perfectionist on my blog today. lol Hope you are yours are having a great weekend!

  4. interesting!

    hope you had a great turkey day down at nutwood.

    i moved the blog- please come visit me at my new url


  5. Great graphic! It speaks for itself.

    Hugs, Rose


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