Perfection vs. Excellence (Business, Career, Life Coaching Series)Written by Ruth Zanes
"(Howard) Hughes never learned how to convert his knowledge to practical application. Instead he sought a perfection that assured failure." - From Empire: The Life, Legend and Madness of Howard Hughes by Donald L. Bartlett & James B. Steel
How many times have you heard someone (it may have been you) proclaim or complain that he/she is a perfectionist? You may have noticed that going for perfection is a fool's game. You simply cannot win when you set perfection as your standard.
There may be rare and unusual situations where perfection is assumed to be an appropriate standard. Frankly, I can't think of one - no, not even life and death situations such as heart surgery demand perfection in process. Each stitch does not have to be sewn perfectly in order to affect outcome. Perfection is present in ultimate result, as evident in patient's survival or death, not in process.
When "perfection" is goal it is usually out of an exaggerated desire to be right, to avoid criticism or risk. The focus is on "how am I doing?" rather than on producing a specific outcome. Excellence, on other hand, is a way of life. It is context in which high achievers and peak performers produce and contribute to quality of life. High achievers and peak performers get things done by taking action looking for appropriate outcomes and measuring their success based on quantity and quality of their results.
The ACHILLES’ HEEL OF MANAGEMENT COACHINGWritten by CMOE Development Team
While heading home at day’s end, you begin reflecting on a coaching meeting you had earlier that day with an employee, Chris. You hope that, this time, you finally succeeded in getting her to understand importance of spending less time in disruptive socializing in office and more time elevating her performance. If not, you feel that your only remaining alternatives are to give her a poor performance evaluation or demotion or may even fire her. You’re reluctant to do either of first two things because you know these would disrupt positive work relationship you’ve had with Chris. And you don’t really want to fire her. On other hand, you’re running out of patience; this is fourth time you’ve said something to Chris about situation. Admittedly, first few times, your comments may have missed mark because you gave her only some casual feedback. But about a month ago, you held a formal coaching meeting with Chris, in which you discussed situation in depth and came away thinking that she understood need to change her behavior. In fact, she did change. But after a week or so, she was back to her old behavior.
Sound familiar? The most critical step in management coaching process – getting an employee to agree there’s a need for improvement – is usually not well understood or well executed. Without that, there’s little likelihood of any permanent change.
Not a chewing out
As use of coaching rises, so does confusion over what it is and isn’t. I define management coaching as an interpersonal process between a manager and an employee in which manager helps employee redirect his or her performance while maintaining mutual trust. Coaching differs from feedback, although feedback is part of management coaching process. Feedback is given by a manager or supervisor in response to a specific event or situation; coaching focuses on a pattern of behavior along with strategies for growth and development. Coaching is all about art of turning situations and events into learning and growing experiences. Examples include missing several deadlines in a short period despite being reminded that meeting deadlines is important, continuing to arrive late for work after being told tardiness is not acceptable, and continuing to interrupt others in spite of receiving feedback that such behavior isn’t appropriate. Management Coaching is not “chewing out”, taking to task, or threatening employees to try to improve their performance. Those tactics can work, but results may be worse than original problem. Such approaches tend to make employees passive-aggressive. They will walk line and do nothing more or less than what is asked.