It is generally perceived that perfectionist people are the ideal employees for any company. They only turn away from the company when they are satisfied that they have delivered the highest quality. New research, however, shows that the “perfect” employee runs a greater risk of a burnout than his or her “average” colleague. They are time bombs that explode sooner or later without proper guidance.
For years a burn-out has been on the table for people and they thought there could be a link with perfectionist people, however, it has never been really proven. Recently psychologists have been studying the relationship between burnout, mental resilience and perfectionism. A number of psychological tests on a couple of hundred people have demonstrated that the risk of burnout increased sharply among perfectionist people. Read more and I will make clear why a perfect employee is more sensitive to burnout.
My advice? If you are a perfectionist, become your own boss. See how to do that at the end.
What is perfectionism?
Essential in explaining this is having an understanding of what a perfectionist person really is like, so here it is according to Wikipedia:
Perfectionism, in psychology, is a personality trait characterized by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting high-performance standards, accompanied by critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations.
It is a trait that makes life an endless reporting act on their accomplishments or looks. A fast and enduring track to unhappiness, it is often accompanied by depression and eating disorders. What makes perfectionism so toxic is that while those in its grip desire success, they are most focused on avoiding failure, so theirs is a negative orientation.
Not easy to correct
And love isn’t a way out; in fact, it feels way too conditional on performance. Perfection, of course, is an abstraction, an impossibility in reality, and often it leads to procrastination. Please also note the difference between striving for excellence and demanding perfection.
Knowing this, you already might feel that these type of people might be very vulnerable to critics and do not take anything lightly. To further enlighten you, here are some characteristics of perfectionists.
They tend to take the defensive.
Perfectionists often get very defensive when they are criticized because a critique threatens to expose their weaknesses, much in the same way failing does. Perfectionists perceive criticism as a measure of their worth or ability.
They fear failing in some way.
While nobody really likes to fail, perfectionists take the fear of failure to a different level. Instead of finding what valuable lessons could be lurking in the failure, a perfectionist takes it very personally. To combat this fear, a perfectionist might overcompensate by reading something over and over again, obsessing about lists and organization, or being unable to make a decision.
They are finding faults in themselves and others.
Perfectionists are often on the lookout for imperfections in themselves and others. Perfectionists tend to be largely overcritical of any misstatement, misspelling or flaw and see it as vitally important to correct people when they make a mistake.
They are having a too rigid standard for themselves and others.
Perfectionists are setting high standards for themselves, and are thus bound to set them for others, including their bosses. Perfectionists might need to come up with their own version of “good is good enough.” Inflexible thinking including the use of words like “must” “should” and “have to” should be avoided.
They have an excessive need for control over others.
Perfectionists often try to control the behavior or thoughts of the people in their lives as a way of preventing them from making mistakes or encountering harm.
They can’t trust someone else to handle it.
You might have heard the saying: ‘Do I have to do everything myself?’ Perfectionists do. Many high-achievers, as a result, find it very difficult to delegate and when they do, become micro- managers. Read here about micro-managers and their impact on you.
Becoming under stress
Now back to the tests. It has been known for a long time that perfectionism is a factor that leads to burnout, but that connection had not been tested and demonstrated on this scale before. The connection appears to be crushing. Certainly in people who combine perfectionism with a so-called “suffering pressure”. Perfectionism as such is not so wrong but becomes problematic if you set the bar unrealistically high, and then stress arises. Moreover, perfectionists who score low on mental resilience are very difficult to channel, making their perfectionism a huge burden.
The burden can sometimes go beyond burnout. The tests showed that even the risk of self-mutilation and suicide is higher among perfectionists. Perfectionists who suffer are more likely to avoid positive activities that could compensate for worry – such as sports – in fact, they trade those activities in for business that puts them under even more pressure. They work one hour longer in the evening on a presentation or they quickly reply to a few emails. They do that to relieve pressure, but they do not realize that it leads to even more stress.
Designated perfect example
Despite the high risk of burnout employers often use ‘the perfectionist’ as a role model. Companies are specifically looking for profiles of this type when they are recruiting, but they do not realize that they are actually attracting possible time bombs. If you do not guide them properly, they will explode sooner or later. However, within an organization, it is often the employees who should be referred to. They make enough overtime and work everything down to the last detail. “Take an example of that,” it often sounds to managers. Wrong! Because those “examples” have burned out completely after a few years.
Scientists argue for more and better guidance within companies. Health coaches are appearing in some firms, but ‘perfectionism coaches’ would sometimes make more sense. Employers complain about the fact that they have many long-term sick people, but they also have to dare to ask themselves questions. What culture is there in the company? Is there room for error? And how do they show appreciation to their staff?
As an employer you can safely recruit perfectionists, but then you also have to give much more feedback than with an average employee. After all, it is people who constantly wonder whether what they are doing is good enough. “Does my work meet the requirements?” “Is the boss satisfied?” “What if I still go wrong? The conclusion might be that you have to evaluate those people more often and say what was right or wrong.
It takes time
In many companies, however, we see the opposite happening. There are rarely any evaluation moments, because it is too time-consuming for managers. Or employers hold a single performance appraisal at the end of the year, which can be deadly for other employees as well. Meanwhile, perfectionists struggle with all kinds of questions and that feeds their insecurity. Which then leads to stress and ultimately results in burnout. Even if they recover from it, things sometimes go wrong again because they return to the job too early. That way you stay busy.
Not only the boss of the ‘perfect’ employee can remedy the problem, the employee himself can also do something about it. Perfectionists must dare to question their own high demands. Are they realistic? And they must dare to compare themselves more with the average colleague. Because, as we have seen above, the perfect employee is not the one who is always perfect. On the contrary.
Perfectionist behaviors can be sneaky because they are similar to the type of behaviors that most people use to maintain their standards; however, they vary in frequency and intensity.
Often without realizing it, perfectionists with so many high expectations wants, standards, especially towards others, may not yet fully appreciate the adverse consequences. On other people, but also on themselves.
Bosses are crucial
Bosses can play a crucial part in avoiding problems with perfectionist people, by recognizing them and then managing them in the right way.
Perfectionist people should look in the mirror sometimes and realize the effect their behavior can have on others in the organization. Some of them might come to the conclusion that they really are not suited for the corporate jungle and rather would work for themselves.
Become your own boss
In this computer age, the possibilities to become your own boss are many. I will give you just one: become your own boss by being an internet marketer, having your own websites and promoting products that fit into your hobbies, interests and passions. How does that work? Read my personal review of one of the world’s best internet business support programs by clicking here.
8 thoughts on “Why is the Perfect employee more Sensitive to Burnout?”
A lot of companies these days are looking to employ perfectionist. This is understandable as they feel their business would succeed more by employing this type of a person. There are obviously advantages and disadvantages to this and the fact is that a lot of people look at the advantages and not the disadvantages.
No one is truly perfect and I believe if one is working to be perfect it might make them try to avoid taking risk because they fear failure and this in one way or the other might lead to limiting their growth or success.
The trouble is that a lot a perfectionist people do not realize they are. So, especially in a working place, these should be recognized and then managed in a different way from the others. If bosses would be aware and know how to deal with them, there should never be a problem and everybody wins.
This is a really interesting topic you are covering. I laughed when I read the topic first. As I read on, everything you are mentioning about “The Perfect Person” or employee is so true.
They feel they have to be perfect in every way possible. Nothing and nobody should be 100% perfect. Isn’t it a crime to be so perfect?
I never knew how perfect people are, have been studied by doctors. This is interesting for me to read and know about this.
Thank you for this amazing post and all the best.
Yes, at first it seems contradictory, but reality is like I have written. If people only would realize what they could do to themselves and more importantly to others around them. This article will help discovering yourself or when somebody is perfectionist.
This was a most informative read. I work in the dance education world, and perfectionism is rife. Luckily most of these individuals work for themselves and run tight ships, so there are no real employee issues to deal with as they are the only person in their business.
The problem comes in when it rubs off on their pupils and they get the feeling that they are never good enough. These individuals are also highly stressed at all times, and they always seem to be busy rushing around.
I have two teachers working with me, and I have to be cautious with one of them as she shows all these signs you mention. I have taken some of your tips on board, so thank you.
Everybody in the world needs a compliment now and then, especially when the work is hard and the standards set high. It needs people with a strong personality to give real compliments. I am happy you have learned from my article.
This article tells us about a perfect employee..It describes what is perfectionism.This article also shows is the characteristics of a perfect employee.I really found this article a helpful one for any employee and for me as well.It will help a employee become a perfect employee. I going to share this article with my friends and family.Thank you very much for sharing.
Thanks for sharing this article with your friends.