How to delegate when you’re a perfectionist


p 1 how to let others take over when youre perfectionist tendencies wont allow it

As a senior director at a fintech firm, Adrianna’s identification was deeply intertwined with the standard of her work. Though her concentrate on excellence had helped construct a multi-million greenback enterprise unit, she moved by her day as if it have been her responsibility to execute on each activity, even when it was under her accountability stage. Adrianna got here to me for teaching as a result of she felt pissed off and resentful. She was sick of working fifty hour weeks, and due to a mandate from the CEO, she wanted to concentrate on technique at the beginning. Once I requested about her method to delegation, Adrianna—who’s a self-professed perfectionist—laughed nervously and stated, “I’m a management freak. I’ve bother letting go. I need to ensure the work will get completed proper.”

If Adrianna’s story sounds acquainted, you’re removed from alone. Research show perfectionism—or the habits of striving for unrealistically excessive requirements—is on the rise. Whereas a drive to exceed expectations is admirable, perfectionism can lead to extra self-criticism, poorer quality of office efficiency, and extra critical penalties like burnout and depression.

Like Adrianna, perfectionists with Sort A personalities have a tendency to be so exacting, they’ve bother delegating. For instance, they could hoard assignments, spend time tweaking unimportant particulars, or micromanage, all of which leads to exhaustion and overworking for the person and low morale for the staff. Poor delegation can even hinder enterprise outcomes. In 2014, a Gallup analysis staff found that corporations led by robust delegators achieved larger general development in contrast to corporations whose leaders delegated much less.


It’s clear that delegation is a vital management talent, particularly in order for you to drive higher outcomes and obtain larger work-life stability. It’s completely attainable to aspire to excellence with out striving for unrealistic requirements. In case you’re a perfectionist, right here’s how to get extra snug letting go, with out sacrificing high quality.


Chances are you’ll assume being the workplace superhero is useful, however pause to replicate on the destructive affect to your self and others. Your overfunctioning could also be creating a dynamic the place others underfunction. Whenever you assume accountability for doing the whole lot and “fixing” conditions, others don’t get the chance to step up. Delegation just isn’t a punishment, nor about you “dumping work on folks.” Reasonably, it’s a likelihood in your staff and colleagues to be taught, develop, and purchase new expertise and competencies.

Likewise, assess perfectionism’s value by yourself well-being. Is it value what it prices you when it comes to misplaced time, productiveness, and new alternatives? A turning level for a lot of of my shoppers is the belief that perfectionism detracts out of your management potential. Whilst you might imagine making an attempt to do extra positions you as a rockstar, a lack of delegation really indicators to senior administration that you just’re not prepared for extra accountability. Highlighting what’s at stake can change your habits as a result of people have a tendency to be motivated by loss.


Many perfectionists fall into the entice of all-or-nothing pondering. They try to delegate by handing off work in a single fell swoop. This inevitably fails as a result of you’ve to construct a consolation and capability for delegation inside your self and in your staff in levels.

Begin by selecting a low-stakes activity you possibly can delegate first. Strive monitoring your time for one week to establish candidates for delegation. These embody duties that:


  • Are administrative, tedious and take a lot of your time
  • Require a easy, repeatable course of that may be simply taught
  • Necessitate a specialised talent set you don’t have

The purpose is to concentrate on upskilling and transitioning duties in components. This not solely builds your confidence that your staff member can do the job, but additionally builds the individual’s sense of mastery and competency with the duty. Analysis shows that the notion of progress creates an upward spiral that begets extra possession, creativity, and motivation.


Because the delegator, your job is to outline the “what,” or the ultimate deliverable, and “why,” or the context and goal. Be clear about your expectations and standards for fulfillment, however delegate authority over how the duty is completed. This requires you to let go of inflexible, perfectionist pondering and the idea that there’s “proper” a method to obtain and consequence.

Equally, drop the concept it’s essential to have a activity exquisitely mapped out earlier than you delegate it. As a substitute, method delegation as a thought partnership. Invite your staff member into the method. For instance, ask them to suggest assignments they’d like to work on, have them share concepts as to what they will take off your plate. A lot of my shoppers are very stunned by what their staff members give you, both as a result of they didn’t notice somebody would need to try this activity or as a result of their staff member proposes one thing they didn’t consider.

Adrianna was reluctant to comply with these steps at first. However quickly she realized that not solely did her staff enthusiastically step up, however additionally they completed the work quicker and to top quality. Senior administration stated they have been impressed by Adrianna’s management expertise, and tapped her for a main strategic initiative. Most reassuring of all, Adrianna now not felt a crushing sense of accountability and exhaustion. She was ready to get pleasure from her work with out a lot stress.

Melody Wilding is an government coach, licensed social employee, and creator of Trust Yourself: Stop Overthinking and Channel Your Emotions for Success at Work.