Imposter syndrome is one of the most unfortunate psychological syndromes in the workplace. You could argue that imposter syndrome unnecessarily hinders someone’s career and earning potential. It’s not easy to overcome Imposter Syndrome but it is achievable by anyone with the right support. Imposter Syndrome is one area of opportunity for professionals to maximize their potential for their own benefit and the benefit of their company.
Imposter syndrome affects people’s self-esteem, relationships, personal life, mental health, and performance. As quoted by Dr. Audrey Ervin in 2017: “It can negatively impact careers because people may overproduce to prove that they are capable. This can lead to burnout and ultimately be counterproductive. People may also miss opportunities because they do not feel worthy or capable, despite being quite competent. Imposter syndrome can negatively impact relationships when a family member prioritizes career success over time with families or children. Partners and families can suffer when someone spends too much time trying to prove themselves in a professional capacity to the detriment of their personal lives.”
So how can companies take initiatives to help tackle imposter syndrome to improve the professional performance and personal development of their employees? What other areas are either directly or indirectly tied into the concept of imposter syndrome at work? How can we address longstanding HR and L&D challenges by addressing imposter syndrome?
Provide more hands-on mentoring opportunities
One study says some employees experience imposter syndrome when given more responsibility and less supervision. Mentorship opportunities provide employees with guidance and a safety net that also isn’t overbearing or micro-managing. Some employees thrive with less supervision and that’s great. Other employees benefit from just a little guidance and even validation from a mentor figure they trust.
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Create an action plan that helps individuals define their version of success
Often, imposter syndrome manifests by comparing ourselves to others. In society today, we are prone to feeling inferior when comparing ourselves to others. It’s easier than ever to see influential figures achieving success and thinking we are somehow doing something wrong. When coming to terms with imposter syndrome it’s important to remember a few things. Everyone can define success differently.
While that last statement has broad applications in our personal lives, let’s unpack how it works in the workplace. It’s important to understand how each employee defines success for themselves and empower them to achieve that vision. Investing in ways to transform company culture and personalize workplace learning opportunities is a great place to start.
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Create a culture of inclusion and belonging
All people thrive when they feel they belong. Inclusive workplaces are happier, more productive, and even HEALTHIER. All of these can be powerful catalysts for individuals with all the potential in the world but who may suffer from low self-esteem because of imposter syndrome. Mentorship and action planning help employees feel like they belong and show a company’s investment in their success even if they maybe have doubts about their own abilities.
Why its important more people overcome their Imposter Syndrome
Imposter syndrome does not discriminate, however, it’s important to acknowledge who is affected most by imposter syndrome. Studies show women and younger employees are most likely to suffer from imposter syndrome. Tackling imposter syndrome could very well be vital for advancing women into senior leadership and developing young employees that companies can retain long term. It is key to driving better performance and mental health for all employees. Our ability to mitigate employee engagement is also likely a bi-product of creating a more inclusive culture. Within this ecosystem, we potentially hold the keys to solving longstanding problems of gender representation at senior leadership and retention of younger employees.