People Management

Why obsessive-compulsive disorder makes for great accountants

Photo by LUM3N on Unsplash

I personally love to spot these characters. They are the ones that align their pens on the desk and all the papers, phone and other objects in front of them. They develop specific rituals that they must complete (usually they try to hide them), like tapping three times into the desk or a specific ritual when closing the door. They often go back to check if they actually closed the door or forgot something turned on. Next, there are the hoarders – those people that keep irrelevant things, just in case they might need them: broken devices, toys for new-borns although they don’t have a kid and so on. “The Aviator” movies describes brilliantly the progression of minor OCD symptoms to a full swing disorder.

Up to a certain level we can all have OCD traits, without turning them into a personality disorder. That can be identified in a high attention to details, rules, lists, order, organizing things, making plans with the sole issue that the higher objective of the overall activity gets lost. People with OCD show perfectionism in everything they do, but because ‘good enough’ is never sufficient, they rarely finish a project.

At this point, I believe it’s visible why these people can’t lead, however they can make for great archivists, accountants, even UI developers in my opinion (although the project timeline could be at risk) and any other occupation where timing is not critical, but having things in good order is vital. They may not have a problem working on an assembly line or doing a repetitive work.

People with OCD are excessively devoted to work and productivity and unfortunately, they end up excluding pauses or any form of recreational break, including friendships that don’t have a justification (serve a purpose). It obviously hits back on their personal and social life, since their obsession for details was already driving other people crazy.

A positive trait, people with OCD have, is that they stick 200% to their ethics, morals or system of values (without being influenced by religion or culture). They are inflexible and scrupulous, hyperconscious which may make them desirable as judges or referees. They can’t wait to be saviours, to save others through their righteous behaviour like knights in shining armours, so remember to appreciate them.

Another reason these people can’t be in a management or leadership position is that they can’t delegate any activity and can’t work with others, unless their orders are followed to the dot. Also having such a boss is any employee’s nightmare. It can also be a disaster if an army leader suffers from OCD as it may lack the capacity to adapt and severely punish those that don’t follow the orders exactly.

They pass for cheapskate, as money has to be kept for catastrophes and for this reason you don’t want this person as a CFO or approving budgets, unless you play on their personality and have everything as an emergency spending. They apply the same policy to their own personal spending.

Their rigidity and stubbornness doesn’t let them step out of their comfort zone. You will rarely see them trying something new unless the change is minimal or once a year. And I mean that in every aspect of their life, including sex, just so you know what to expect. From a work perspective, if you assign this person to lead an innovation department, you’ve buried any chance to innovate. There’s a good change though to make them fans of automation.

Hoarders are extremes cases, but any person with OCD has a hard time throwing away used or useless objects that don’t have a sentimental value. If you’ve ever seen such a person’s home, you can’t miss it. This particular trait of OCD often shows up in elderly people that tend to clutter all sort of objects and want to emphasize every time the principles they lived by.

On the brighter sight of things, people with OCD can make great connections with schizoid personalities and can even team up to work on a task or project.

Understanding these personalities and identifying them early is critical for a company to avoid certain disasters. Also putting each person in the right position that is in line with their personality can make wonders. The personality construct is not set in stone, it evolves constantly, especially if the person has a desire to change. Just observe. Observe the human side.

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