Imposter syndrome: how can employees and employers deal with it
Have you ever doubt your skills or you constantly feel you are not good enough at work? Well, if the answer is yes, you might have imposter syndrome. This is the name given to a behavior pattern where people doubt their success and accomplishments despite strong evidence to the contrary. They have an internalised fear of being exposed as a fraud.
Research reveals that imposter syndrome is related to anxiety, depression and low self-worth, and it has a negative impact on wellbeing through stress, anxiety and feelings of isolation, inhibiting risk-taking and innovation through fear of failure.
While the exact number of people dealing with this is unknown, its incidence is high; many employees have likely had these feelings.
It is not easy to deal with imposter syndrome, but there are some excellent tips to avoid it:
- The first step to overcoming imposter syndrome is to pay attention to negative thoughts. Your emotional state affects your perception. If you are anxious about a tight deadline or a challenging project, remind yourself that your anxiety may trick you to believe that you are a fraud, but you are not.
- Another good way to push away negative thoughts is to make a list of all skills and accomplishments that make you uniquely qualified for your job, so it is at the top of your mind when you are having a bad day.
- Keep a work journal where you write down any positive feedback you have received. This may help you to see a pattern where you are succeeding and where you may need to focus on developing within your role.
The importance of employers in managing imposter syndrome at work
However, on the other hand, imposter syndrome is a significant problem for employers in the modern workforce. They need to come alongside their employees and give them the help and encouragement they need to feel secure in their job.
Employees experiencing an internal crisis with continual stress and anxiety can derail daily activities. This can diminish productivity levels even for employees who clearly are competent at what they do. They also are afraid of being found out as a fraud and it may compel them to work to the point of burnout. This can also manifest as perfectionism and can ultimately create problems. These issues can even lead some people to leave their jobs when they begin to feel there is a lot of pressure and a high chance of being found out for “what they truly are”, even though this is unfounded and not a risk.
In these situations, employers can help their employees by encouraging them and creating a sense of belonging within the company. An excellent way to do this is to build an environment where all ideas are welcome. If employees are placed in an environment where they can express themselves without judgment, they are less likely to believe their ideas are not good enough. If their workforce feels supported by management, they will be less likely to struggle with perfectionism or crumble under pressure if minor mistakes are made.
Implement a continuing education program for your organization. The program does not have to be extensive, it just had to help update employees on trends in your industry or best practices to help them grow and upskill. Also, implement an assistance program for employees to turn to when they feel overwhelmed and need someone to talk to.
For last and not least, it is fundamental to encourage employees when they do good work. It will boost their confidence and make them feel more competent and capable. To create a culture for the entire office where coworkers and peers encourage each other as well. Once employees beat imposter syndrome, employers will begin to reap the benefits of a healthy and productive workforce.
Written by Roberta Vieira for Together Abroad