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How to Manage Your Employees’ Impostor Syndrome: A Guide

Photo by Nik Shuliahin

We all have faced impostor syndrome at some point in our lives, whether at work or at home. Everyone feels like an impostor sometimes and doubts their own worth.

So, how can you manage your employees’ impostor syndrome as an employer?

Well, that’s what you’ll learn in this post. You’ll find nine of the best ways to manage your employees’ impostor syndrome and make them feel more confident and respected.

So, let’s get started.

What Exactly Is Impostor Syndrome?

Impostor syndrome is a feeling of self-doubt and thinking that you don’t deserve your job and are an impostor who got it by mistake.

Such feelings may arise even within well-performing employees who are admired and respected. In such cases, they’d think that they’re duping their team into believing that they’re good at their job when actually they aren’t.

Here are some symptoms of impostor syndrome:

  • Feeling the need to be a perfectionist at work to show your worth.
  • Isolating yourself from others so that they don’t discover that you’re an impostor.
  • Frequent burnouts and declining mental health.
  • Working long hours or extra hard because you feel like you need to do more to become as competent as your coworkers.

While at first, you may think that perfectionism and workaholism work in your favor as an employer, they really don’t. With time such employees’ mental health will deteriorate, leading to much bigger problems and probably even quitting the job.

So, you should learn how to manage your employees’ impostor syndrome before it’s too late.

How?

Find out in the next section.

Tips to Help Your Employees Cope with Impostor Syndrome

Here are some of the best tips on how to manage your employees’ impostor syndrome.

1. Set clear expectations

One brilliant way to manage your employees’ impostor syndrome is to set clear and specific expectations from the first day itself.

Clearly define their specific role, job expectations, goals, performance metrics, and progress checkpoints. You can break it down to the project level by creating a project timeline and goals.

This will make sure that they know exactly how they’re performing.

Moreover, it will give them a sense of accomplishment every time they cross a checkpoint or achieve a target. This, in turn, will keep the employees motivated and confident in their abilities.

2. Help new employees make connections early on

Ensure that your employee onboarding process equips new employees with all they need to build team connections and get to know their coworkers.

Some things that you can do include:

  • Assign a mentor or a peer from day one
  • Give them access to your employee communities
  • Host an orientation program to get them acquainted with their team
  • Help them join relevant groups or clubs within your organization
  • Conduct team-building activities

Employees who feel a sense of belonging will be less likely to have impostor syndrome and be isolated.

3. Make it easy to ask questions or reach out

The first step towards employee welfare is fostering an open culture that encourages communication and asking questions. Of course, this can also help you manage your employees’ impostor syndrome.

How?

By making it easy for them to reach out the first time, they need help before things accumulate and cause them to feel inadequate.

Have an open-door policy where any employee can simply knock on your door or their manager’s and walk in for a conversation.

4. Have frequent and regular check-ins

Make sure that your employees have regular check-ins with their reporting manager and HR.

While most organizations do the former, it’s the check-ins with HR that have a bad image. People think that if an employee is going to HR, they are filing a complaint.

That perception needs to change. Regular check-ins with HR can help check an employee’s emotional and mental well-being.

Check-ins with the manager, on the other hand, help employees know how they’re doing, what they’ve accomplished, and what’s their next target. It helps with being on the same page with regard to employee performance.

5. Train your managers well

Managers are the first point of contact for most employees who are facing workplace issues. You need to train your managers on how to manage your employees’ impostor syndrome and care for their mental well-being.

These training programs should not only aim to spread awareness about impostor syndrome and other mental health problems, but also provide ways to cope.

Create a set of best practices, if you may, to ensure that managers know exactly how to handle various situations.

Create a set of best practices, if you may, to ensure that managers know exactly how to handle various situations.

Visuals are a more effective way to convey messages. You can create a video course and make it easy for everyone to access and refer to, as and when needed.

6. Appreciate and give credit

One of the best ways to manage your employees’ impostor syndrome is to appreciate them for their good work. And always give credit where credit is due.

Appreciation and recognition work towards boosting employees’ confidence and helping them believe in themselves more. This, in turn, counters the impostor syndrome that would make them feel like they are not good enough.

You can start a rewards and recognition program as an official way of doing this. However, it doesn’t hurt to give frequent compliments on a job well done from time to time.

7. Be inclusive and foster team diversity

If you want to create a positive and healthy work environment, you should really focus on inclusivity and diversity.

Create diversity in your teams by hiring people from different walks of life, geographies, genders, color, etc. Pay special attention to the minorities and make them feel included by treating them the same as everyone else.

A workplace that doesn’t discriminate and treats everyone equally is one where employees will thrive and will be more motivated to give their best.

Again, training managers on inclusivity is required to achieve such a culture. You can write a lot of stuff in your company values, but it doesn’t amount to anything if it’s not implemented.

Reinforce these values in your workplace by conducting regular training sessions. You can collaborate with an online course platform and create a customized training program.

8. Focus on data and remove biases

Despite our best intentions, sometimes we have certain biases that influence our opinions even if we try to stay objective. One good way to avoid biases to creep in, when dealing with employees, is to focus solely on data.

When you’re doing performance evaluations, specifically, simply look at the goals and metrics that you set up at the beginning of a period. Let the data speak for itself, instead of you adding your biases.

That’s not all!

If you want to understand the nerve of your employees, just ask them. Collect regular feedback in the form of anonymous surveys and forums to allow people to speak up.

Use these insights to improve your work culture.

9. Encourage strength-based role allocation

One of the key symptoms of impostor syndrome is that employees feel they don’t have the skills to do their job and are simply duping everyone.

While in most cases it wouldn’t be true, in some cases it might actually be a case of the wrong fit.

Maybe an employee feels like an impostor because you’re not letting them play into their strengths and giving them tasks that they’re not suited for. A person may have excellent skills in one area, but may not perform well if you give them something entirely different to do.

So, a good way to manage your employees’ impostor syndrome is to allocate tasks based on their strengths. This would not only allow you to make the best use of your human resources, but also make people feel less like impostors and more like high-performing employees.

Ready to Manage Your Employees’ Impostor Syndrome?

Hopefully, by now, you would be well-equipped to manage your employees’ impostor syndrome. These are some of the best tips you can get to help your cope with your employees’ impostor syndrome.

So, use these to enable and empower your employees and make them feel more confident about themselves and their work.

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Our 15+ years of expertise in business productivity

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