How To Beat Imposter Syndrome At Work
Whether you're dealing with impostor syndrome yourself or trying to prevent imposter syndrome on your team, this blog is here to help. We'll walk you through what Impostor Syndrome is and how to overcome both the individual and the management perspectives.
Everyone wants to feel like they belong at work. But the truth is that impostor syndrome is real. If you've ever had feelings of not belonging or not deserving your job, you're not alone.
What is impostor syndrome?
Imposter syndrome is a feeling of self-doubt that comes from work accomplishments. You may feel like an imposter because you don't think that you deserve your job. When you feel like you're an imposter, you often feel like you're fooling your coworkers into thinking that you're good at your current job.
You might feel like you've only gotten where you are today because you were lucky rather than because of the skills or abilities you possess
Believe that your self-worth depends on your perception of your abilities. You feel like you need perfectionism to deliver satisfactory results. You are sacrificing yourself for the sake of getting more work done.
Feeling alone, or needing to isolate yourself from others, so no one finds out your secret due to overwork or burnout and declining mental health. Feeling like, at any moment, someone is going to figure out that you're not as competent as you seem.
If any of these statements are true for you, you're not alone. According to research, 62% of knowledge workers worldwide experience impostor syndrome.
Everyone experiences impostor syndrome at some point. Imposter syndrome isn't just for new hires. More senior employees are actually more likely to experience impostor feelings than average.
The history of impostor syndrome
Impostor syndrome, or the impostor phenomenon as it was initially called, was first introduced by Dr Pauline Clance and Dr Suzanne Imes in their book, The Impostor Phenomenon in High-Achieving Women: Dynamics and Therapeutic Intervention. Interviewed 150 high-achieving female professionals who their employers had formally recognised for their professional excellence. However, many of these women believed that their success was due to good fortune or that their achievements had been exaggerated.
These feelings aren't just specific to women from the 1970s; they're present even today among all types of high achievers and professionals.
Tips for overcoming imposter syndrome
Give yourself a reality check.
The first step to overcoming impostor syndrome is to notice when you're having negative self-talk or thoughts. You know, the moments when you assume that your colleagues think you don't understand them and misinterpret their every frown as evidence of your ignorance.
When this kind of thought arises, it is essential to realise it as a thought, not a fact, so don't get pulled down by your negative thoughts; make a self-affirming statement.
Tell yourself something like: “I am having this thought because I am not feeling s confident in myself. The reality is that you have lots of education and experience. I also put a lot of effort into my work.”
Our emotions affect our perceptions of reality. If you're anxious about a tight deadline, or if you're worried about a challenging project, your default emotional state might be anxiety and self-doubt. Observing your emotions and triggers is essential to know which coping mechanisms to use. If you are anxious about the project, remind yourself that your anxiety may trick you into believing you are a fraud—but you are not.
Keep track of your strengths and accomplishments.
It’s hard to keep your eyes off your to-do list and inbox, but focusing on your strengths, accomplishments, and successes is even more challenging.
Make another list of all the skills and accomplishments that set you apart from others in your field, so they're always at the forefront of your mind when you're feeling down.
Another way to protect against those negative thoughts is by keeping a record of any positive feedback you receive.
Create a support network at work
The worst thing that people suffering from impostor syndrome can do is t avoid seeking honest and validating feedback from others. Try to develop strong relationships with your colleagues, so you have people who can help you when you're new and need support.
People can often normalise things for you and tell you that your beliefs about yourself aren't accurate.
You’ll also need to nurture a second relationship with your manager. Don't let your boss wait until next year’s performance review to give you feedback on your work. Ask for feedback on your performance and ask for what you can improve on.
It's normal for you not to know everything when you start a new job or a career. Managers really appreciate curious people who want to learn and ask good questions.
Curious people appreciate interested people and go after building a trusted network; you’ll no longer be afraid to ask your colleagues for help if you’re unsure how to tackle an assignment. Don't feel bad if you don't know what to do. Ask for help if you're not sure.
Build your knowledge bank
Imposter syndrome doesn't go away overnight, but there are things you can do to help prevent it from sabotaging your career. Do you know the saying "Knowledge is Power"? Well, it's true. The more you know about your job and your field, and the more you put effort into your professional development, the better equipped you'll be for success.
You're not alone
Imposter syndrome is tough to deal with. It's hard to tell others about that feeling when you feel like you're not good enough. As a manager, it's essential to support your team, especially when they're feeling insecure. However, it isn't easy to spot and address imposter syndrome.
Regardless of your situation, feelings, or exact emotions, you're not alone. If you're a fan of statistics, remember that 62% of global employees feel impostor syndrome.