As children we are conditioned to equate success with winning and being the best. This kind of rationalizing has taught us that in order to be a successful part of any team or group; we have to be a top performer, infallible to the eye. Yet we all know that none of us are without flaws and it’s important to switch our focus in the workplace from being perfect to being effective.
Over the course of my career, I’ve had female managers that toe the line between being amazingly put together and micromanaging. This behavior of course isn’t restricted to women (men can micromanage too!). However, I’ve noticed that in the workplace there is a pressure for women to be extra serious, attentive, prompt, etc. That that kind of aspiration for perfection is impossible to attain and if achieved very hard to maintain.
What is more important is to consistently prove your self-worth and value as a team player. Once you switch your focus to this performance style you will find that the way you’re respected within a company will be greater than if you are simply seen as someone that has an impeccable record.
So what exactly am I talking about?
Having an answer vs. having the right answer
Being a gifted public speaker is an invaluable asset, but using that ability to talk oneself out of every situation doesn’t help get things done. For example when dealing with a customer who needs details on a project you are in a charge of, but don’t have the answers to, a person striving for perfection might feel the need to talk themselves out of the situation in order to save face.
A person striving to be effective will take a beat and inform the customer that although they don’t know the answer right now, finding it will be priority #1.
Being relatable to co-workers & a respected team player
When you move away from striving for perfection you allow yourself to open up lines of communication to your peers. For example, instead of consistently being the only person talking in a meeting because you feel you have the appropriate plan of action worked out, try involving others in the conversation.
If you are someone who is naturally comfortable with speaking up, use that skill to ask questions and engage with those around you. This will make you stand out as a leader way more than simply dominating all communication.
Collaborating on tasks vs. taking them over
Someone who strives for perfection may have the desire or urge to quite frequently take over projects when they see issues arise. This could be to save one’s own behind, or to simply take on credit for more work.
An effective team member and leader would be someone who can look at a task, delegate responsibility, and collaborate with others when necessary. Showing your ability to lead people and produce a cohesive end result is more impressive than simply insisting on doing it all yourself.
You might be surprised how many people stick to the old stigma surrounding workplace relationships and home life. In order to be a more effective employee and leader it is important that (once in a while and in moderation) you show yourself in a different light.
This can either mean going out to a casual lunch with co-workers or superiors, dressing casually on Fridays once a month, or attending your company’s holiday party. You want to make sure to do something once in a while that makes people remember you are a human being, and not just a work robot.
Do you feel the need to be perfect at work? How do you deal?
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