When is Perfectionism Too Much of a Good Thing?

There is a fine line between wanting to do a good job and displaying obsessive-compulsive tendencies. If you think you have an employee who might be a victim of obsessiveness, ask yourself if he or she exhibits these behaviors:

- becomes anxious and preoccupied with a need to check over items or to verify that he has performed tasks properly

- feels the urge to repeatedly check if he or she has neglected an item that could cause harm or damage, such as failing to lock a door, leaving equipment on, or not using the parking brake

- feels the urge to repeatedly check if he or she has made a mistake such as a typographical error or misplaced numbers on a spreadsheet

- feels the urge to repeatedly check if she has missed or forgotten something important, such as notes in a briefcase or slides for a presentation

- becomes distracted by checking behavior, causing difficulty concentrating and affecting productivity at work

- seeks out others to reassure him or her that he or she has performed tasks correctly

- checks even though he or she knows the checking behavior is excessive; he can’t stop himself from doing it

Source: Stop Obsessing! How to Overcome Your Obsessions and Compulsions, Edna B. Foa, PhD, and Reid Wilson, PhD.

Suggested Reading

1. Stop Obsessing! How to Overcome Your Obsessions and Compulsions, R. Reid Wilson, PhD, Bantam, 1997.

2. The Boy Who Couldn’t Stop Washing, Judith Rapoport, E.P. Dutton, 1989.

3. Brain Lock, Jeffrey Schwartz, Regembooks, 1996.