MT agony uncle Jeremy Bullmore

I'm too much of a perfectionist

I have perfectionist tendencies, and it's something I've struggled with for 20 years. It's creating problems for my team.

by Jeremy Bullmore
Last Updated: 06 Sep 2013

Q: It's been said of me in the past that I have perfectionist tendencies, and it's something I've been working on throughout my 20-year career, yet I still struggle with the issue. It came to a head recently after a 360-degree appraisal by my team members. It's clearly a problem for them - which came as a surprise to me as I thought I had this under control.

JEREMY SAYS: To call someone a perfectionist should be a compliment - but more often than not, it's used as a euphemism. It's a way of describing someone who is infuriatingly stubborn about the slightest detail of any undertaking, often at the expense of the morale of the other members of the team - and sometimes even of the successful and timely completion of the project itself. What's particularly irritating is the air of superiority that the 'perfectionist' often adopts; as if all the other members of the team are no more than a bunch of slapdash chancers.

I think it likely that, in your struggle to overcome your perfectionist tendencies, you've given insufficient thought to how your behaviour may appear to others; otherwise, the results of that 360-degree appraisal wouldn't have taken you by surprise.

Once you realise that certain aspects of perfectionism are in fact intensely selfish, and are seen by others to be so, you should find it a great deal easier to modify your behaviour.

Jeremy Bullmore is a former creative director and chairman of J Walter Thompson London. Address your problem to Jeremy Bullmore at: editorial@managmenttoday.com.

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