Work can be overwhelming. We’ve all doubted our abilities at some point.
“I’m not good enough for this role.”
“I’m a fraud; I shouldn’t be on this project.”
“My team have it all together; I’m nowhere near their level.”
If you’ve ever felt this heavy weight before, and can’t enjoy your wins, it may mean you’re experiencing imposter syndrome. And you’re not alone. We’ve all been there at some point or another. In fact, 85% of UK employees experience imposter syndrome at work.
It’s common that both you and your people have or will experience this, and it can really take the joy out of work. Although we can’t stress enough how normal it is to experience imposter syndrome, it’s really not fun for our mental health or self-esteem.
It’s something we’ve heard about a lot, thanks to social media, but do we really understand what it is?
Symptoms can include:
Workplace imposter syndrome is particularly rife in managers because, well, managing a team is tough! Whether you’re a first-time manager or department director, managing can be incredibly overwhelming, and imposter syndrome adds those unwanted layers of pressure and anxiety to the workday.
But you’re working hard. You’re successful. And you’re in this role for a reason. So, what steps can you take to overcome it?
It really is. If 85% of UK workers experience imposter syndrome, there’s a great chance that someone else is dealing, or has dealt, with it too. However, 94% of those who have suffered from imposter syndrome haven’t discussed their feelings at work, which feels like a missed opportunity. Whether it’s your team, your manager, or even a friend or family member outside the organisation, sharing your feelings is a great way to vent, get advice, and learn from each other’s experiences.
No matter your experience, it’s easy for imposter syndrome to make you doubt yourself and your abilities. But you are capable and that’s why you should celebrate! It’s easy to ignore your personal wins, but would you do the same for your team? Thought not.
Take time to look back at past projects that got you to where you are now. Acknowledge the wins, and appreciate the learning curves, because, without those you wouldn’t be on the same success path. It’s okay to doubt yourself sometimes, but ensure you look at how far you’ve come and enjoy your successes.
It’s easy to compare yourself to your peers and think you’re worse at your job than they are. And a lot of the time this can spiral, leaving you feeling unproductive and unworthy.
Take a step back and instead see what you can learn from your peers. Some will have strengths in certain areas you don’t, but it also means you will have strengths in areas they don’t. Not having certain skills doesn’t make you less worthy, but rather creates an opportunity of learning and development, so you can all grow and succeed in your roles.
Giving and receiving negative feedback is a common cause of workplace anxiety that feeds into imposter syndrome. But as a manager giving (and receiving) negative feedback is part of your role, and an important component too.
And remember: Negative feedback isn’t actually negative, but constructive. It highlights areas of improvement, strengthens your people’s ability to enhance their performance, encourages a better manager-employee relationship, and overall helps you become a stronger leader.
Imposter syndrome can come in all shapes and forms, so don’t be discouraged, and most definitely don’t feel like you’re alone, because you’re not. Find out what type of imposter syndrome you are today.
Looking to transform your performance management strategy? Talk to an expert to find out more about how you can help your high-performing teams reach higher.