Managing Perfection: A Millennial Trait?

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Managing Perfection

Managing Perfection: A Millennial Trait?

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Does the pursuit of perfection affect the most recent workforce generations more than the earlier traditional or boomer population? Traditionals, boomers, and some of the generation X population may quickly shout out, “No!” However, some experts are seeing things differently. Do you have trouble managing perfection?

The Problem

There is a belief by some that our society has become too focused on extrinsic goals such as the attainment of money, an image of wealth, and physical appearance. This may make millennials and generation 9/11 (Gen Z, iGen), according to some researchers, at a much higher risk for developing ambition addiction, which may then lead to anxiety and depression. While perfectionism is often associated with having an unattainable or an unrealistic goal, it can also lead to feelings of unhappiness and create a lack of job satisfaction. Business and human resources professionals may quickly see this as a linkage to employee absenteeism and turnover.


At least two quick thoughts enter my mind. The first is that employees in all job roles must have up-to-date and well understood job descriptions. In addition, they must be provided with prompt and constructive feedback on performance, and their goals should be clear, realistic, and attainable.

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The second thought is to suggest that perfect and productivity are not synonymous with a job well done. During seminars I often remind groups that in many professional skill settings many job tasks can be accomplished quickly, while making the output perfect takes the most time.

Managing Perfection

Imagine writing a one page letter to the president of your company. You have two measurements of productivity, one being, to accomplish the task, the other representing the time it takes. You can probably draft the letter very quickly, accomplishing 80% of the task while only taking about 20% of the time. While fine tuning or enhancing the letter to perfection is only 20% of the task, but it takes 80% of the time. In some cases, but not all, draft may be an acceptable approach for achieving both progress and productivity while also avoiding the harmful effects of striving for perfection.

Perfection millennial

It seems to me that if societal trends have us focused more on extrinsic accomplishments; perfectionism may be something all generations need to rethink.

What about you, are you a perfectionist?


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Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker, and coach that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is the author of the newly released book, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

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February 11, 2016at 1:42 pm

Hi Dennis!

Which gen is the Happiest?



    February 11, 2016at 1:45 pm

    I would probably side with the idea that there isn’t a particular generation that is more or less happy. Of course you could always research that idea, but I’m not sure that there would be strong evidence towards any particular generation. Do you have a feeling about this?


      February 11, 2016at 2:10 pm

      I’d bet each gen evolves and matures in happiness.

      Becoming happier and happier as time passes.



        February 11, 2016at 3:00 pm

        Could be, certainly a nice thought!


February 11, 2016at 1:39 pm

Define perfect.

Define perfectionism.



    February 11, 2016at 1:43 pm

    Yes, good question or statement. I guess in some ways perfect or perfection depends on individual circumstances. Do you agree?


      February 11, 2016at 2:07 pm

      Is perfect absolute, or can we evolve in perfectionism?

      Can we become perfect and keep getting better and better?



        February 11, 2016at 2:59 pm

        My belief is that perfectionism is a constant pursuit of doing or being perfect. A noteworthy point is that some of the research seems to indicate that the idea of perfectionism is often not healthy. The disappointment associated with the relentless pursuit and failure to achieve perfection can lead to high levels of anxiety and depression.


          February 11, 2016at 7:07 pm

          Great thought D.

          Been dwelling on perfect and perfectionism a lot.

          My thought is, perfectionism is a journey where one dwells in being, doing, and having ONLY in what makes one happy and feel good. Testing this theory out…

          Thanks for your expertise!

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