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‘Imposter Syndrome’ in the Workplace

Many business professionals suffer from what is widely known as “imposter syndrome” at least once during their careers. Comparing yourself with peers and feeling like you don’t stack up can give birth to crippling self-doubt, which can then result in negative consequences for your business operations. Imposter syndrome is a phenomenon that was discovered in the 1970s, but is only more recently being publicly acknowledged in workplace culture. Employees can express imposter syndrome in various ways, such as acting insecure about their abilities, second-guessing decisions, and being afraid of taking on new challenges.

In today’s fast-paced workplace, it’s hard not to feel inadequate at times when there’s always something new to learn or a new skill set to master. Digital technology and social media also make it easier than ever before to compare our success to others’, perpetuating a cycle of self-doubt. It’s understandable then why imposter syndrome has been dubbed the “workplace anxiety du jour.”

While imposter syndrome does come with its fair share of difficulties, it’s a sign that you have a team of highly intelligent, driven individuals. In order to overcome imposter syndrome in the workplace, it’s important to build your confidence in yourself and your abilities. The sooner you are able to accept yourself for who you are, the easier it will be to lead you and your team toward your goals and celebrate the milestones you’ve reached along the way.

1.Keep Yourself In Check

The first step to overcoming imposter syndrome is to pay attention to your negative thoughts. You know, the ones where you assume that your co-workers think you’re clueless and interpret their every frown or lack of lunch invitations as confirmation of said reality. When this type of thought surfaces, it is important to recognise it as a thought, instead of a fact. Instead of getting sucked into negative thought quicksand, make a self-affirming statement.

It is recommended telling yourself something like: “I am having this thought because I am not feeling so confident in myself. The reality is that I have tons of education and experience. I also put a lot of effort into my work.”

Remember that our emotional state affects our perception. If you’re anxious about a tight deadline or a challenging project, your go-to emotion might be anxiety and self-doubt. It is essential you accurately observe your emotions and triggers so you know the appropriate coping mechanisms to use. If you are anxious about the project, remind yourself that your anxiety may trick you to believe that you are a fraud—but you are not.

2.Be Your Biggest Fan

They say “nothing succeeds like success.” You can find your confidence again by remembering all of the ways you’ve made a positive impact. List your biggest accomplishments. Where have you made a difference? When did you contribute something meaningful? What was your latest big win? Doing so will help you see yourself as others see you—as a powerful contributor who deserves to be in the room. The good news in being a perfectionist means you care deeply about the quality of your work. The key is to continue to strive for excellence when it matters most, but don’t persevere over routine tasks and forgive yourself when the inevitable mistake happens. 

3.Feedback Always Leads To Development

Use tools like 360 assessments and retrospectives to unearth opportunities for learning and development in a growth-oriented way. Empowering teams through the use of feedback makes sure expectations are understood, which helps reduce unnecessary self-doubt among individual contributors.

It takes emotional honesty, introspection, and feedback from others to achieve the self-awareness and self-acceptance needed to combat imposter syndrome. Support yourself and your team in taking an inventory of their strengths, perhaps with the assistance of a coach, who can help them leverage their strengths fully. A good coach will help pull out unique attributes that make a person shine in their work, and support them in taking consistent action to develop habits that help them succeed to their full potential.

Because identifying opportunities for development can introduce self-doubt, because there are four stages of learning a new skill, known as the conscious competence ladder. It’s important to realise that undertaking a challenge or assuming a new responsibility can be a vulnerable experience, so encourage yourself and others to approach it with a healthy dose of self-compassion.

Approaching development as a series of low-stakes experiments can also help. Confidence is a learned skill, after all, so adding playfulness to the process helps develop resiliency, so that everyone can bounce back a little easier when setbacks inevitably occur.

4.Reasonable Expectations

To overcome imposter syndrome, you need to stop setting unattainable standards and expectations for yourself and thinking that factors such as luck or help are responsible for your success. You also need to stop blaming your own limitations for mistakes or failures. Failures are part of life and we all deal with them. At the same time, learn how to accept a compliment and draw strength from it. 

5.Work Support Network

The worst thing that people with imposter syndrome can do is to isolate themselves from receiving accurate and validating feedback from other people. Work hard to build relationships with your co-workers, so you have people to go to lunch with and lean on for support, especially as you navigate being the newbie. People can often normalise your experiences and reassure you that your belief about yourself isn’t accurate. You’ve got this!

Another relationship you’ll want to nurture? The one with your boss. Don’t wait for an annual performance review to get your boss’s assessment of your work. Ask for feedback on what you’ve done well and ask for what you could improve upon. When you’re starting a new job or a new career, it’s expected that you don’t know everything. Managers very much appreciate someone who is inquisitive and is wanting to grow, and asks good questions.

Once you’ve built a trusted network, you won’t be afraid to ask your coworkers for guidance if you’re unsure how to tackle an assignment. Instead of getting stuck in feeling like an imposter, ask for help if you are not sure what to do.

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

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