What Is Imposter Syndrome and How It Affects Your Work

Posted on Wednesday, September 22, 2021 by Izabela KrajkaNo comments

Imposter syndrome is usually understood within a work environment and most often in those who are promoted to managerial positions. However, it can affect anybody and in every area of life too. To learn more about what it is and how it affects your work life, keep reading.

What is Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter syndrome, or imposter phenomenon, was first discovered by Imes and Clance about 50 years ago. They noticed it in highly successful women and later on, Clance revealed in her paper that the imposter phenomenon affects both women and men. Moreover, more recent studies confirm that women and men suffer from imposter syndrome rather equally.

Okay, but what is it exactly? Well, it's a fear and self-imposed belief that you're not good at your job. What's more, you feel like a fraud and start doubting your abilities and struggle to accept your accomplishments. Imposter syndrome is not technically a mental health issue. Nevertheless, it can lead or contribute to health conditions such as stress, anxiety and depression.

How Common is it?

It's hard to say as research can't agree on the right proportion of the population that will suffer from this. However, the majority of studies suggest that more than half of the population will be affected by imposter syndrome in their life. Moreover, findings of a review on imposter syndrome published last year show that between 9% and 82% will suffer from it.

Men and women both suffer from imposter syndrome

Covid-19, Imposter Syndrome and Work

Covid-19 pandemic and national lockdowns meant staying home and working remotely for anyone that that could. What is also meant is people suffering from the imposter phenomenon had felt they could fight their 'imposter' easier. Nevertheless, the majority of them still believed that everyone else have been more productive than them and that they themselves didn't achieve enough professionally.

For those suffering from imposter syndrome, every little mistake can feel like a great failure. So, to avoid it they overwork themselves which means they are more likely to make errors. And this, in turn, will further their feeling of worthlessness. Moreover, that causes higher stress and lower job satisfaction and in the end burnout.

How Can Employers and Managers Help?

In case of furloughs and redundancies, it's important to let the employee know that it is not their lack of skill or achievement that leads to the decision. What's more, as the employer or manager you should empower the worker and inspire them to find a new role. So, highlight their accomplishments, skills and professional development within the business to make them feel supported in this time.

However, this form of encouragement shouldn't only occur when saying goodbye to an employee. Especially if you notice that one or some of your employees are working after hours, keep procrastinating on tasks or seem highly stressed. So, sit down and have a chat with them to check up on how they're feeling. Make them know you see and appreciate their hard work and highlight key skills.

Take action don't let imposter syndrome stop you from achieving success.

Another point to remember is to ask your employee how they prefer to hear feedback. Some respond natively to public shows of praise while others enjoy it. So, do keep in mind personal preferences when it comes to giving feedback.

What Can You Do If You Suffer From Imposter Phenomenon?

First, remember that people who don't suffer from it are no smarter or more competent than those who do. So, it all comes down to reframing your thoughts. Learn how to respond to challenges by understanding that getting constructive criticism is highly valuable. Moreover, by not asking for help you might be slowing down your team or finishing a project. After all, practice makes perfect! Yes, we all have moments where we second-guess what we do or where we're at. However, the point is not to stay in this state of mind. Solution? Exercise not letting your doubt control your actions.

Moreover, speak to your close ones about how you're feeling. Even with your mentor, manager, supervisor- anyone. Why? Because those who are more experienced can assure you that what you're going through is normal. They might even share their stories and their struggles similar to yours. It will make what you're feeling less scary and know that it's just your imposter syndrome talking. However, if you feel like you need more help than that, seek out a professional psychologist who will give you the right tools to 'deal' with these feelings.

Succeed even with imposter syndrome

As you can see dear reader, imposter syndrome can affect anyone of us and in all areas of our life. Most commonly in work, so if you're an employer or at a managerial position keep this in mind when thinking of your employees. And if you suffer from it yourself, know that you're not alone and that you are worthy to achieve great things! If you're ready to take action, we've got tens of thousands of job vacancies for you to find your perfect job. Be brave, be confident and succeed! Good luck!

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