Employee Engagement, Employee Wellbeing | Article

Imposter Syndrome and How to Replace it with Confidence

People have been suffering from imposter syndrome for many years. It’s time to take employees from feeling uncertain to feeling confident.

The Problem of Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome. The term has been around since 1978, however it remains very prevalent today. It’s the fear that you’re going to be exposed as a fraud. It’s the feeling that you are not equipped to handle your job or a new responsibility.

While feeling uncertain isn’t fun, it’s certainly natural. And it’s pretty much inevitable that each of us will feel out of our depth at some point in our careers. It’s a normal (and necessary) step in learning and growing. Yet, it often leads to this feeling of imposter syndrome.

As a leader, you can play a part in helping your employees feel confident and ready to tackle every work day.

What You Can Do

1. Foster belongingness

When employees feel like they belong, self-doubt begins to dissipate. Create a space in which employees feel like they can speak their mind and be accepted. This will encourage people to be honest about when they are feeling in over their heads. To foster belongingness, engage employees daily both in person and digitally with a recognition platform. Those day-to-day touch points strengthen connections and boost morale.

2. Normalize failure

Feeling like an imposter often leads to the fear that failure will lead to punishment or being fired. Employees then become risk averse. Being innovative and taking risks may sometimes lead to failure, but it’s also how we grow and succeed. Let your employees know that failure is okay and should be embraced from time to time. As a leader, talk about your own failures to help normalize it.

3. Provide mentors

According to a KPMG survey, people were better able to combat imposter syndrome by meeting with mentors and seeking advice from trusted individuals. Mentors can talk to mentees about their role and capabilities. With a close understanding of their work, they can reassure them that they are on the right track and give guidance when needed.

4. Encourage collaboration

Collaborating is another great way to fight imposter syndrome. Working together as a team can boost confidence and creativity. It also fosters connections and when people feel more connected to one another, they are more likely to lend a helping hand. When people help each other out more frequently, employees won’t feel like they always have to handle things on their own or know it all. It’s especially important for leaders to collaborate with their teams to stay connected and uplift them along the way.

5. Prioritize D&I

There are certain barriers that minority groups will face in the workplace that others do not. BIPOC employees are also significantly impacted by imposter syndrome. Prioritize diversity and inclusion initiatives that will help you remove barriers. Highlight employee achievements and ensure you (and your fellow leaders) are being equitable in giving out recognition.

6. Provide training

Perhaps one of the most important tactics for squashing out imposter syndrome is training. When beginning a new role or gaining a new responsibility, adequate training will ensure employees feel ready to take it on. Having the proper training period eases them into it which allows time for imposter syndrome to disappear. Learning and practice lead to confidence and set people up for success.

As self-critical human beings, we hold ourselves to very high standards. We despise feeling uncertain and put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be perfect. The truth is that we don’t need to know everything all the time. Our careers will be full of change, learning, and development. Embrace the inevitable and help your employees do the same so they don’t feel like imposters!