Last week we published a blog written by my colleague Harry Stoll focusing on the optimal time to turn placements over to a collection agency.
Harry shared some very good guidelines to help the process, but sometimes it just boils down to someone waiting for the ‘perfect’ time. Rarely is there a ‘perfect’ time to do anything, however. Optimal, yes. Timely, yes. Perfect, highly unlikely.
Perfectionism as an attribute can be a blessing and a curse. In the medical profession perfect is the goal and often times ‘good enough’ just does not cut it. However, in other businesses, close is often the best choice as the penalty for waiting is lost business, market share and competitive advantage.
So, when does close enough roll over into too perfect, or perfectionism?
In an article titled “How Perfectionists Can Get Out of Their Own Way” by Alice Boyes, PhD, (Harvard Business Review, read it here) she wrote about ways of mitigating the negative impacts of trying to be perfect.
She writes “…perfectionism can be a double-edged sword. Having high standards and being hardworking can help someone stand out in a crowded field, and their tenacity can help them improve their skills over time.” Yet these traits also cause perfectionists to “get in their own way.” She lists the following as just a few of the challenges being, working with, or for, a perfectionist can have:
- Struggling to make decisions or take action: “Perfectionists are motivated to make the absolute best choice — even when doing so isn’t strictly necessary. This can lead to decision paralysis.”
- Worrying excessively about sunk costs: “Since perfectionists tend to ruminate over even tiny mistakes, they’re strongly motivated to attempt to recover situations involving sunk costs…they can spend too [much time] working on marginally productive activities before moving on.”
- Avoiding challenges to avoid failure: “Perfectionists want to feel absolutely ready before taking on challenges. This can lead to holding back from advancement or leadership roles.”
- Applying their high standards to others: Sometimes the “…perfectionist also expects others to conform to their standards…being too demanding can harm relationships and sometimes lead to…being socially excluded because they’re emotionally hard…to deal with.”
- Ruminating about weaknesses, mistakes, and failures: “One reason perfectionists are so strongly motivated to avoid small mistakes is because making them triggers their tendency to ruminate… [this can lead to] irritability and feelings of depression, and can disrupt the person’s performance and relationships.”
What can we do about it? She suggests several things:
- Learn from successes: “The idea of learning from your mistakes is likely to feel too confronting to a perfectionist, and trigger rumination. An alternative is to learn from your successes. By reflecting on the pathways that led to your successes, you’ll be able to see that you achieved a meaningful end despite not doing everything completely flawlessly…”
- Develop heuristics to enable faster decision-making and action taking: “Heuristics or rules of thumb are aimed at producing good decisions most but not all of the time. They help balance the benefits of faster decision-making against any incremental gains you might get from delaying action and continued thinking.”
- Ask yourself “How could I improve by 1%?”: “Because perfectionists want to be flawless, they’re typically dismissive of incremental gains. By looking for how you can improve your behavior by 1%, you’ll start to see that there are easier ways to improve than what you’re imagining.”
- Learn strategies to disrupt rumination: “It’s a lot easier to tolerate making mistakes and having flaws if you know how to curb rumination. Notice when you are starting to mull over something, and ask yourself if obsessing over it is really helping you. Often, rumination feels like problem-solving — but it isn’t. If your thoughts are just going in circles, or you’re noticing that your rumination is putting you into a bad mood, let it go.”
There is, of course, no perfect plan of action. We are human after all. Sometimes it is just better to try ‘ready, fire, aim’ to achieve at least some progress. And after all, since none of us is perfect, progress over perfection is often the best path to follow.
A. Alliance Collection Agency, Inc. is a full service, licensed accounts receivable management and debt collection agency providing highly effective, customized one on one management and recovery solutions for our business partners. Founded in northern Illinois in 2005, we have been proudly improving the bottom-line on behalf of our business partners in and around Chicagoland for over 13 years.
Image provided by: : Alpha Stock Images – http://alphastockimages.com/ Original Author: Nick Youngson – http://www.nyphotographic.com/