Impostor Syndrome In The Workplace

by 1st October 2020Karen's Blog

Impostor Syndrome in the Workplace

In my previous articles on impostor syndrome, I have said that 70% of people will experience Impostor Syndrome in their lives. I believe by understanding impostor syndrome, Human Resources departments and employers can help reduce its impact in the workplace.

What is Impostor Syndrome?

Impostor syndrome may result in self-doubt, insecurity, and the unshakable beliefs that your achievements and success are due to luck rather than it being what you have learnt or knowledge that you have gained. People with impostor syndrome dread being discovered as a fraud, and worry that other people will believe that their achievements have been solely driven by external factors. Some break impostor syndrome down into subtypes depending on the nature of the feelings and the resultant patterns of behaviour.

It is important to note that imposture syndrome is not a realistic self-assessment of inadequacy in a certain situation, but a sense of unworthiness and inability. Further success just fuels the fire as evidence that you will be exposed as fraudulent.

Why is Imposture Syndrome In The Workplace A Problem?

Impostor syndrome is a major headache in the workplace for many reasons.

  1. It reduces well being and can increase the chance of acute or chronic mental health issues.
  2. It can result in a negative impact on interpersonal relationships.
  3. The sufferer fears failing and are less likely to chase innovation, which naturally reduces the chance of reaching their full potential and has a negative effect on their work ethic.

How Can You Help?

Focus on Including People in All Activities So That They Feel Validated.

External validation is an overriding need in people suffering from impostor syndrome, so telling them things that are good, or maybe giving three positives and only one constructive improvement at a time is a great way to be conscious of, and support suffers. Not being included and accepted in the workplace, and external non-acceptance can make people feel worse. When people are under-represented and under-valued in the workplace, this can make the impostor syndrome more of a risk, and decrease morale.

Encouragement in the Workplace

Many large organisations acknowledge hard work privately and publicly, this is fantastic for boosting motivation, wellbeing, and productivity. Taking the time to do this allows individuals to begin to feel noticed and important. Employers should also encourage practising self-care strategies which can really help in tackling impostor syndrome; it’s time to move away from hard work -work and no play- being the only ideology behind success.

Be mindful however that the implementations do not over reward individuals. Over rewarding an employee with promotions, extra responsibilities, over the top praise above expectations etc, can fuel impostor syndrome. It can result in the candidate not believing they are worth that panic that they cannot reach those desired expectations, even if the management believe in them.

Educate and Inform to Help Reframe Beliefs

In people who suffer from impostor syndrome, there is a clear, self-doubt thought pattern; they experience limited beliefs in themselves. This, in turn, leads to a feeling that no one understands them. They tend to have an overwhelming feeling that they must wear a mask to live up to expectations and hide their real selves.

An NLP coach can help individuals reframe these beliefs, and can change the sufferer’s whole behaviour. It may be worth companies displaying posters around the premises regarding impostor syndrome so that employees have a number to contact for help and support. Some individuals may feel embarrassed and are less likely to ask for help in the office, especially from their superiors, hence why the posters would be useful so that employees can seek help privately.

A few companies have coaches coming into the premises on a regular basis to offer support so that staff can go and talk in confidence without the boss or supervisor’s knowledge, enabling them to access the help that they require. In my experience, many companies have found that by having a coach coming in once a week, or once a month, it can really help to iron out any problems both in the workplace and at home, improving employee morale, productivity and work ethic. These companies have also found that staff are less likely to leave and it helps improve staff retention.

Have You Been Affected By Impostor Syndrome?

Whether you’ve been affected by impostor syndrome as an employee, or if, as an employer, it has impacted on your workforce and their productivity, I can help.

Click the button below to contact me today, for a free, no-obligation chat about how I can help your and/or your workforce to overcome impostor syndrome.

About Karen Baughan

Karen Baughan is an NLP Master Practitioner based in Bromsgrove, UK. Having used NLP to affect her own personal transformation, she now helps clients, from around the world, to transform their lives and achieve their dreams.

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