“Strive for continuous improvement instead of perfection.” — Kim Collins
None of us are perfect but I cannot even begin to count the number of managers I have worked for who expected perfection from their employees. This unrealistic expectation does far more harm than good. So, what impact does expecting perfection have on employee performance?
When our best is never good enough, we quickly become frustrated. Your employees know that you are not perfect, they know that their colleagues are not perfect, so why is it that perfection is expected from them? It is a bar set far too high to ever reach. Instead of frustrating employees with the expectation of perfection, how about encouraging them to focus on continuous improvement; baby steps can take you a long way.
Lack of motivation
When frustration becomes a daily occurrence, we begin to lose the motivation to even bother striving to improve. When faced with unattainable expectations your employees will eventually tire of feeling like they are constantly swimming upstream. Setting small, attainable goals for your employees will not only get them from where they are to where you want them to be, it will also build their confidence and fuel their motivation.
Once we have lost the motivation to strive for excellence, we begin to settle for the status quo. The status quo never leads anyone to success; it feeds the mindset of good enough is good enough. While employees need to be made to feel that their contributions are valuable, you never want them to settle for stagnating at their current level of performance. This is where your encouragement and appreciation makes all the difference; help them to continue to make progress without overwhelming them with the unrealistic expectation of perfection.
Progress not Perfection
The key to success is progress, not perfection. Many will say that excellence is the enemy of perfection. I say that getting stuck in the good enough is good enough mindset leads to maintaining the status quo and status quo is the enemy of progress. Perfection is an unrealistic expectation. To further complicate the issue, the definition of perfection varies from person to person. Stop imposing the frustration of such an expectation on your employees. Fire up their motivation rather than stifling it. Encourage the small steps of progress that deter the tendency to settle. Continuous improvement should be the goal. What are you going to do to encourage and reward progress in your employees today?
© 2017 Elizabeth Stincelli
Liz Stincelli is passionate about recognizing and inspiring the leader in each of us. She is the Founder of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations change attitudes, change communication dynamics, improve collaboration and problem-solving, engage employees, and strengthen organizational culture. Liz holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.
Learn more about Liz by visiting her website, stincelliadvisors.com and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.