Picture from iStock




By Dianne Crampton

They call it sitting on the fence.  This is when employees refuse to make decisions because they are afraid of making a mistake. These are your team mates  who try to get something so perfect that they fail to take action.  As a result, their innovations stagnate    and their goals fizzle.

This is the dilemma of analysis paralysis and the internal drive to get something “just so” before moving forward to accomplish a goal.

The truth is, analysis has its place, but perfectionism can be a serious block to goal achievement.

Perfectionism is rooted in a fear of inadequacy or a fear of being judged incompetent. It is an Inner Critic run amuck that may manifest as a berating inner voice. Or, it may emerge in criticizing others, pointing out their flaws, imposing your advice when it wasn’t asked for or coming across like a know-it-all.

All of these behaviors sound pretty unpleasant. On teams, they can result in micro management that damages trust and team interdependence. And perfectionism can stop the forward progress of achieving new innovations and accomplishing goals.

Perfectionism is a clever self-sabotaging technique that convinces people that being perfect makes them superior. This means that they convince themselves that it is in their best interest to “always be their best” – or – that they’re helping others when they impose their opinions on them. Different from being analytical, perfectionism damages relationships and shackles goal achievement

One way to avoid the perfectionism dilemma is to systemize decision making and problem solving.

For example, I coached two brothers who were starting a business together. One brother was very analytical and held a position as a finance manager for local government. The other brother was affable and could sell snowballs to Eskimos. He held a sales position at a radio station.

Together they complimented their natural skill sets very well. However, their team dynamic had descended into finger pointing and criticism. The analytical brother held up decisions and stalled action by revisiting details and previously agreed upon decisions resulting in missed deadlines and opportunities.

The planning process had become so complex and convoluted that forward momentum had become paralyzed. What dislodged the quagmire was three part process.

1. The first was participating in a team building process that built respect for the positive qualities each brother brought to the team.

2. The second was playing the TIGERS Team Wheel™ team building game to initiate a common understanding of behaviors that build strong teams and behaviors that consistently cause problems. These behaviors are anchored by six universal team principles that build high levels of cooperation and collaboration on teams of two people to hundreds. These principles are trust, interdependence, genuineness, empathy, risk and success. They form the acronym TIGERS.

3. The third was building an agreement between the two brothers on how to deploy their unique skills when making decisions and solving problems so that goals could move forward and then be evaluated later for improvement.

The two brothers further decided that anything that was not critical could wait. What resulted was a clear decision making process that could be refined over time if problems surfaced.

In resolving the perfectionism dilemma, don’t let the details get you down. Keep things simple, prioritize, let things be good enough, evaluate the goals you do accomplish to determine if improvement is warranted and focus on the behaviors that keep your team strong and successful.

Copyright TIGERS Success Series