Do you manage remote employees? Whether your company is remote by choice or not yet back in the office due to Covid-19, having a remote team can throw up some challenges as well as some great opportunities.
While you might worry that remote employees won’t work so hard when they’re not in the office, the truth is that most people are more productive when working from home. Your employees may find it easier to focus and get their work done when they have more flexibility over their time and space than would have been possible in the office.
However, some of your employees may be struggling with perfectionism.
Why Perfectionism is a Problem in the Workplace
You might think that perfectionism isn’t a bad thing: after all, who doesn’t want employees who pay close attention to detail and want to do a great job every time?
But perfectionism can become a destructive force. It can lead to employees obsessing over tiny details … while their work pace slows to a crawl.
You might find yourself back to all your notes for your PMP classes looking for solutions. Why is your team missing deadlines, or leaving important pieces of the work unfinished, when everyone seems to be working hard – perhaps so hard they’re stressed out?
Excessive perfectionism could well be the cause. Your employees might be so worried about making mistakes that they’re trying to get everything just right before you set eyes on it … even if “perfect” really isn’t the standard you’d expect or want!
Here’s what you can do about it:
Communicate Clearly About Priorities
Perhaps one of your employees is spending hours of their time obsessively proofreading internal documents, because you once mentioned a spelling error. They may have taken this feedback to mean that you expect those documents to be perfect – when, from your perspective, it might have simply been a passing remark.
Make sure you’re clear with your team about what is (and what isn’t) a priority. That might mean explicitly stepping in and saying that you want them to only spend a few minutes on a particular task.
Give Regular Positive Feedback
Make sure you give your employees positive feedback to let them know what’s going well. If they only ever hear from you when you want them to fix something or tackle a task differently, that may leave them feeling anxious that their performance is subpar.
Don’t assume that your employees (even the confident-seeming ones) simply know that they’re doing a good job overall. Make a point of letting them know.
Be Available for Questions and Offer Help
Unhealthy perfectionism can creep in when employees feel worried about disturbing you or asking for help – so they try to manage everything on their own, potentially missing out on resources that you would have been able to provide.
Let your employees know that you’re always happy to answer questions. You may want to suggest the best way to communicate these. For instance, you might ask them to send an email so that you don’t get constant interruptions in Slack, or you might want to set up a weekly 1:1 call so you can cover any questions at that point.
Also, encourage employees to let you know if there’s anything you can do to help or make their work easier.
Some employees will simply have a perfectionist streak: it’s part of who they are and how they work. But by communicating clearly, giving positive feedback, and making sure you’re available, you’ll make it much easier for them to cope with their perfectionist tendencies and perform at their best for you.
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