The Goal: Progress, Not Perfection


I recently interviewed with a company, of which will remain nameless here, that required perfection from its employees. Really? In the first interview, which happened to be a group interview, we were told (as part of the overview of the company and position we had all applied for) that the person they are looking for will be perfect, that there is no room for errors, and that there is no room to leave a project to do the next day…everything must be completed daily, and perfectly. We were also told that some days would be 6 hour days, and some days would be 12 hour days. But, the position was very personally rewarding….

I don’t know about you, but how do you expect absolute perfection from your employees? We are only human, we will make mistakes, and hopefully we will learn from those mistakes. Part of being a leader is allowing your employees to make mistakes and to learn from those mistakes. Through this, you’ll help your employees unlock their potential and continue to grow both professionally and personally. You can’t expect your employees to grow within their positions and within the company if they are already perfect.

I believe that progress should be the goal, not perfection.


Perfection is controlling everything around you, or being a control freak. It is not making any mistakes. It is requiring everyone around you to be perfect. This can be with anything from data entry to working with customers. Working around perfectionists can be stressful, irritating, and often drives those around the perfectionist to back away and even quit their job over it.


Progress is improvement, innovation, and change. Change is inevitable, no matter what industry you work in. To promote change you must have progress. To have progress you must give your employees the freedom to do what they are passionate about, even if you don’t agree with it. After all, you might be wrong about whether or not it will work. Without risk and innovation there will never be change or progress. Motivating employees to progress on their current skills, the employee must be allowed to think on their own, and to be pushed beyond their comfort level to experience new things, to become passionate about new things, and to bring new ideas to the table.

Motivating Progress

I’ve had a couple of personnel reviews where my direct supervisor has told me that I’m not perfect in a specific area. This has always irritated me because obviously I’m not perfect. No one is! Unfortunately, these supervisors did not promote or motivate me to create progress in my work. So, I do my best to do this with my employees.

Motivating an employee to continue their progress and change is a simple four-step process:

1. Acknowledge the employee for what they have done right.

2. Point out what they need to work on.

3. Work with them on a plan to improve their skills.

4. Give them the freedom to grow and progress in their position and the company.

If you do these four things you’ll see improvement, progress, innovation, and change within the employee that will help both the employee and the company grow.

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