New study reveals negative consequences of perfectionism
While all companies should encourage employees to work hard, striving and obsessing over perfectionism can have a damaging effect in the long run.
Analysis conducted by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology looked at 42 studies over 20 years and found that there was an emergent behaviour pattern known as “perfectionistic concerns”. This was dubbed the “dark side” of perfectionism in which an individual would experience stress over making mistakes, disappointing others around them or failing to meet impossibly high, self-ascribed standards.
Lead researcher Andrew Hill stated that this type of perfectionism was detrimental not only to the individual but also to others around them.
“Perfectionistic concerns capture fears and doubts about personal performance, which creates stress that can lead to burnout when people become cynical and stop caring,” he said.
“It also can interfere with relationships and make it difficult to cope with setbacks because every mistake is viewed as a disaster.”
While perfectionistic concerns can occur in all areas of a person’s life, the most negative effects were witnessed in the workplace. Burnout rates as a result of this phenomenon were highest in this facet of life, which was attributed to a lack of social support and set expectations, compared to other areas such as education and sport.
In terms of long-term health effects, previous studies have shown that perfectionistic concerns contributed to increased stress. The possible affects of this include higher anxiety, eating disorders, depression and even early mortality.
While perfectionism is largely negative according to the findings, it can be managed if handled with the correct mindset. “Perfectionistic strivings”, as opposed to perfectionistic concerns, can help individuals feel a sense of accomplishment and delay the effects of burnout.
In order to achieve this, standards must be set carefully and employees must be free to work proactively towards attainable goals. HR management software may be useful in setting standards based on previous performance