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Imposter Syndrome: How to Help Employees Battle Self-Doubt

Imposter Syndrome: How to Help Employees Battle Self-Doubt

Imposter syndrome affects most employees. Learn ways your company can support employees so that your team's talent can shine.

There’s no doubt about it: imposter syndrome is affecting your workplace. Imposter syndrome affects millions of people every day, making them doubt their natural abilities and talents. Also known as the “imposter phenomenon”, this psychological process leads people to believe that they aren’t truly good enough. They believe that their success isn’t actually real. So how does this relate to your office? This way of thinking seeps into the workplace, making employees live in fear that their colleagues will see them as a “fraud”. Studies show that over 70% of employees experience imposter syndrome at least once throughout their careers. In reality, most of your employees are probably battling inner-demons telling them they aren’t good enough. What can you do to help?

In this blog, we discuss the history of imposter syndrome, analyze the facts surrounding it, explain ways to prevent it from infiltrating your company culture, and fill you in on how Bryq may be able to help you battle it – and win.


What’s Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter syndrome has been making headlines recently, but this psychological phenomenon isn’t anything new. Imposter syndrome was first identified by psychologists Suzanne Imes and Pauline Rose Clance in 1978. Through research, they discovered that the syndrome occurred among high achievers who were unable to see their talents for what they were or accept their success as valid.

Fast forward to 2021, and people are still at war with their inner-saboteurs – now more than ever. According to the International Journal of Behavioral Science, at least 70% of employees will experience a case of imposter syndrome at least once in their careers.


Imposter Syndrome Can Affect Anybody

When imposter syndrome was first identified in the 1970s, it was originally believed that it only affected women in the workforce. While Imes’ and Clance’s original studies were focused on female participants, further studies revealed that men may equally experience the imposter phenomenon. While 90% of women said they have experienced imposter syndrome, a whopping 80% of men admitted to having experienced imposter syndrome at some point in their lives as well. In the UK, at least 85% of employees are affected by the phenomenon, but only a quarter of them even know they have it. Imposter syndrome is more common than we believe it to be. If you think that your workplace is free of the imposter phenomenon, you’re wrong.


Imposted syndrome affects all type of employees.

Fives Ways to Battle Imposter Syndrome


Accountability is Key

When battling imposter syndrome within your team, accountability really helps. It’s important for managers to hold themselves accountable for their actions and mistakes. When managers lead by example, they show the rest of their team that even they make mistakes sometimes and that they’re only human. Likewise, managers should be vulnerable and open about discussing their own self-doubt with employees. Employees suffering with intrusive thoughts about self-worth will find comfort in knowing that their manager feels the same way they do sometimes. Just be sure to address these doubts with confidence as to set an example for employees in how to manage their own imposter syndrome.


Create a Free-Thinking and Open Environment

Many great ideas never come to fruition simply out of fear. Employees might be afraid to express their ideas in fear of judgment from their peers. It’s important for managers to understand that not every idea is a “bad” idea. When an employee comes to the table with an idea, it should never be instantly shot down. By taking every idea into consideration, it shows employees that their input is valuable. It makes them feel worthy and important to the team. Even if you think the idea isn’t a perfect one, it’s best to try to find some worth from it. At best, this practice leads to more innovation at companies. If innovation is an important part of your company’s culture, then creating a free-thinking environment for open discussion is important.


Imposter syndrome can be help fought by a company that cares.


Provide Proper Support and Training to Employees

Employees should also feel comfortable to admit when they need some help. Employers are obligated to provide proper support and training to staff so that they can perform their job duties with confidence. Additionally, it’s a great idea to provide job development initiatives to staff such as mentorship programs and continuing education opportunities. Not only is this a perk that employees love having, but it helps employees with imposter syndrome feel that they are smart enough to do their jobs. Providing employees ample opportunities to grow and learn do nothing but benefit your company and work culture. Encouraging growth gives employees the green light to keep learning without thinking they should already know everything.


Create a “No Blame” Culture

Employees are often afraid of admitting when they’ve made a mistake or have failed. They fear that this one mistake could get them into trouble, or possibly even terminated from their jobs. This fear adds fire to their imposter syndrome, leading them to believe that they’ll eventually be let go from their jobs. The best way to combat this is to create a “no blame” culture. This allows and even encourages employees to make mistakes knowing there probably won’t be major consequences. Failure isn’t always grounds for job termination. When an employee admits to a fault, simply use it as a way for them to learn a lesson so that they do better next time. Employees aren’t robots. They need to be reminded that they are humans that are allowed to be imperfect.


Normalize Encouragement and Frequent Feedback

Encouraging employees is one of the best ways to battle imposter syndrome in the office. Employees battling intrusive thoughts of not being good enough need the support of their peers. This doesn’t exclusively apply to managers. The entire team should be held accountable for encouraging each other. Regularizing success is also important. Employees shouldn’t feel ashamed or judged for celebrating their accomplishments. Allow employees an opportunity to celebrate their achievements, and encourage the rest of your team to be unafraid of letting somebody know they did a great job. They need to know that their success was achieved because they are talented and brought great skills to the table.

Feedback is equally important when trying to combat imposter syndrome. Without guidance, an unconfident employee might think that their great work isn’t good. Check in on employees often. Ensure that feedback is constructive and relevant, and be sure to highlight the things they are doing well. Make sure that there is no doubt surrounding their skills.


Bryq Helps Battle Imposter Syndrome


When it comes to defeating imposter syndrome, Bryq is your best bet.

The Bryq talent intelligent platform is the perfect way to help employees combat any doubt they are having about their abilities. Our talent assessments are based on I/O psychology and predict job performance. Through assessing a candidate’s personality traits and cognitive abilities, we are able to get important insight into how well they fit into both a role and your company’s culture. We strongly suggest showing your new hires their candidate reports. These reports are scientific and they cannot lie. They prove to employees that they are fully capable of performing well and fitting into your organizational culture based on both their natural cognitive ability and who they are as people.

Additionally, our assessments have built-in ‘indicators’ that measure things like perfectionism and being an overachiever. People who experience imposter syndrome often fall into these sub-categories as well. By thoroughly assessing an employee’s assessment results, you will be able to get a sense of which employees might be prone to imposter syndrome. This allows you to keep a closer eye on them so that you can address any flare ups right away.

Ready to start? Suit up – it’s time to kick imposter syndrome to the curb! Book a demo with us to see how Bryq looks into the inner-workings of your candidates’ personalities and skill sets. We’d love to show you how our I/O psychology works to better your talent management process. Every superhero needs a sidekick – let Bryq be yours in defeating imposter syndrome.

Do you want to see how Talent Intelligence helps you create the Future of Work?

Book a meeting with our team today to find out!

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