Imposter syndrome is real, and it affects more people than you think. Managers, leaders, and employees alike all suffer from imposter syndrome in different capacities. In this article, we will dive into numerous tips, tricks, and best practices that you can leverage to overcome imposter syndrome while empowering your team to do the same.
- Common characteristics of imposter syndrome
- How does imposter syndrome affect employees?
- 20 ways to overcome imposter syndrome
What are some common characteristics of imposter syndrome?
Everyone experiences imposter syndrome differently. Here is a list of common symptoms to look out for:
- Constant self-doubt
- Sabotaging your own success
- Undermining your performance
- Overachieving as a means to overcompensate
- Attributing your hard earned success to external factors
- Setting challenging or unrealistic goals, deadlines, or benchmarks
- Possessing an unrealistic fear that you won’t live up to expectations
- Possessing an inability to realistically assess your competence and skills
How does imposter syndrome affect employees?
Imposter syndrome affects employees in a number of ways. Employees feel they don’t deserve their job, promotion, or opportunity. Those that suffer from imposter syndrome may be disengaged or unmotivated. They may also be less inclined to collaborate with their teammates. Having a fear of failure not only impacts beneficial risk-taking but also overall employee performance, productivity, and engagement.
Hold regular 1-on-1s
Create a safe space for your direct reports to share their feedback and any areas they need support with in a collaborative meeting agenda using a tool like Fellow to use during your next 1:1.
20 ways to overcome imposter syndrome at work
- Acknowledge the feeling
- Separate feeling from fact
- Create a hype doc
- Find a mentor
- Set reasonable expectations
- Change your mindset
- Become self-aware
- Fake it until you make it
- Change your narrative
- Look for confidence outside of work
- Know you’re not alone
- Learn from others on your team
- Focus on your strengths
- Visualize success
- Reward yourself
- Develop a healthy response to your feelings
- Don’t compare journeys
- Ask yourself ‘why not me?’
- Work towards a culture of inclusion
- Watch for burnout
1 Acknowledge the feeling
One of the most important things you can do when any uncomfortable feeling arises is addressing the feeling. Being present and acknowledging how you feel will help you get to the bottom of how you’re feeling so you move forward with an actionable game plan.
2 Separate feeling from fact
Facts are objective, but when we begin to internalize situations we dive deeper until we form our own opinions, which eventually leads to subjective thoughts that can begin to spiral out of control. Do you really believe you don’t have what it takes, or have you simply let your thoughts get the best of you? Separating feelings from facts will help you see the big picture with a much clearer perspective.
3 Create a hype doc
A hype doc is essentially a combination of all of your proudest moments. This doc is your opportunity to create a highlight reel of everything you’ve accomplished in your career to date. When you’re feeling low, take a peek at your hype doc and get instantly inspired! You have tons to be proud of.
“Whether you are starting from scratch or need to dust one off, I encourage you to maintain a Hype Doc! It’s been a great road down Memory Lane for me to see how much I’ve grown, and how much growing I still have to do. Block some time out and you’ll have a great look back, perhaps for your career memoir in the future.”
– David Hoang, Head of Product Design at Webflow
4 Find a mentor
The corporate world can be lonely, but it doesn’t have to be. Finding a mentor means you always have someone to go to when you need guidance or career advice. Confiding in a seasoned professional that has walked in your shoes is a great way to gain insights and added confidence. Your mentor may also be able to identify your symptoms so you’re able to detect and disable a case of imposter syndrome before it even happens.
5 Set reasonable expectations
Nothing is more diminishing or disappointing than setting unrealistic goals. If you frequently realize that you’re not living up to the expectations that you’ve set for yourself, it may be time to reevaluate. If you’re not reaching your goals, this doesn’t mean you’re not where you’re supposed to be. It may just mean that you need to step back and reevaluate what’s attainable for you at this current moment.
6 Change your mindset
Nothing is more powerful than a positive mindset. Oftentimes imposter syndrome is completely unmerited. Instead of telling yourself you don’t have what it takes or you don’t belong in your current role, begin to own your success. You deserve to be where you are today.
7 Become self-aware
Being self-aware gives us the power to influence outcomes. When you begin to look internally, you’re able to become more intentional. Prioritizing self-awareness is key, especially for managers because it helps you become a better communicator as well as a powerful decision maker. Being self-aware will provide you with the confidence you need to excel in your role.
8 Fake it until you make it
You’ve heard this one before, right? You’re the only person that knows what you don’t know. If you already know what knowledge you might be lacking, take the time to learn it. Nobody knows everything, so it’s time to put your critical thinking cap on and pivot accordingly.
9 Change your narrative
You have the power to write your own story. If your workplace isn’t inclusive about or open to discussing feelings, take the reins and rewrite the narrative. Great leaders empower those around them to be the best version of themselves they can be, and employees can’t thrive or overcome imposter syndrome if these foundational relationships aren’t being built.
10 Look for confidence outside of work
The age-old saying goes, “don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.” Someday, you won’t have your job anymore. Your organization may fold, you may be laid off, your role may change, or you may end up at a completely different company, and it’s extremely important to take this potential for change into consideration. Your work should never be your only source of happiness or confidence.
11 Know you’re not alone
The silver lining in feeling like an imposter is that you’re never alone. Millions of employees all over the world feel the same way you do. If you have a work buddy that resonates with these feelings, consider reaching out to them. You may find peace in knowing you’re not alone.
12 Learn from others on your team
Strengthening relationships with people in your workplace is a great way to build lasting connections. After you have a relationship with your teammates, managers, or leaders, it becomes easier to have open conversations about success, career growth, or anything about which you may be needing advice. Taking the time to book one-on-one meetings with the people you admire is a great way to put your fears at bay.
13 Focus on your strengths
Nothing feels better than honing in on your strengths or conquering a massive project that may be seemingly impossible for someone else. Playing on your strengths is a great way to boost your confidence and an even better way to eradicate imposter syndrome. If you’re constantly focusing on areas that need improvement, you will always be focusing on what you aren’t good at, as opposed to focusing on your superpowers.
14 Visualize success
If you don’t have a clear picture of what success looks like for you, you won’t be able to obtain it. Take the time to define what your personal success looks like. If you don’t spend time identifying what success means to you, you will never be comfortable or secure in the present moment.
15 Reward yourself
Celebrating the small wins is imperative. Something that seems small to you may be a career highlight for someone else. Don’t take the wins for granted; you deserve to celebrate no matter how big or small. It doesn’t matter if you’ve completed a massive campaign or simply finished your sprint for the week, take some time to step away from work and reward yourself.
16 Develop a healthy response to your feelings
As we mentioned earlier, it’s crucial that you acknowledge your feelings. After you’ve taken the time to acknowledge your feelings, you should take the time to develop a healthy response to them so you don’t continue to spiral. Embracing your feelings, understanding why you’re feeling them, and setting them free is a great place to start.
17 Don’t compare journeys
Everyone’s journey looks different. Comparing your trajectory to those around you will only result in feelings of despair. Instead, admire your personal journey and recognize how far you’ve come! You deserve to be present and celebrate where you are today.
18 Ask yourself ‘why not me?’
Sometimes the answers to life’s questions are simple. If you find yourself feeling inadequate, simply flip the narrative and ask, “why not me?” Why don’t I deserve to be here? Why shouldn’t I be managing a team? Why don’t I deserve a raise for all of my hard work? After asking yourself these questions, you will most likely find that your claims of feeling like an imposter were completely unmerited.
19 Work towards a culture of inclusion
It can be hard to overcome imposter syndrome, but it becomes much easier in an inclusive environment where everyone feels comfortable enough to share their failures, mistakes, or worries. Hearing and openly discussing mishaps is a great way to reiterate amongst your team that everybody makes mistakes. Remember, it’s ok to make mistakes if you learn from them. Some of our worst mistakes turn out to be our best learning opportunities.
20 Watch for burnout
Oftentimes imposter syndrome leads to even more serious consequences like burnout. Being overloaded with work can cause burnout, and as a manager or leader, you need to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms amongst your employees. Not only does imposter syndrome often lead to burnout, but it also kills productivity and damages working relationships.
Curb imposter syndrome once and for all
Imposter syndrome plagues millions of employees all around the world. Whether you’re concerned about your personal progress or those around you, these tips, tricks, and best practices can help you eliminate imposter syndrome in the workplace.