How to Overcome Impostor Syndrome in the Workplace

Published on: 17 Nov 2020

What is Impostor Syndrome?

Impostor Syndrome is a general feeling of inadequacy or fear that you are going to get caught out as a ‘fraud’ at any time. An individual with Impostor Syndrome usually cannot recognise their own talents and achievements and thus feels a general sense of insecurity and fraudulence. Impostor Syndrome also exists in the workplace. The ‘Impostor’ may feel as though they are not deserving of the position they are in, or perhaps they feel unsure of what they should be doing and therefore feel like a fraud. If you feel that you have workplace Impostor Syndrome then there are certain steps you can take to try to overcome it:


1. Recognise your triumphs


An integral part of impostor syndrome is not being able to recognise your own success. Remind yourself of these successes; your grades, past work experiences and career achievements. Your employer chose you for this position because they saw potential in YOU. Reminding yourself of this fact and of all your past successes will help to keep you calm when the doubt starts creeping in.


2. Don’t be afraid to reach out


Okay, so you feel like a fraud because you don’t know what you’re doing? Maybe you look around you and see that all of your coworkers are busy working and this makes you feel even more unsure of yourself. Relax. The easiest thing to do in these situations is to ask for help. No one will think badly of you for asking your boss or colleagues ‘is there anything you need me to do?’ or even admitting ‘sorry I’m a little lost, do you know what I need to being doing right now?’ Asking for help might seem daunting, but once you’ve done it we’re sure you’ll start to feel more confident about your responsibilities.


3. Stop comparing yourself


Your achievements and responsibilities are just that: YOURS! A large factor of Impostor Syndrome can be caused by comparing yourself to others. Judging your own self-worth based on others is not a healthy or constructive way of measuring your talents. Everyone is different, with different strengths and weaknesses. Focus on your own and forget everyone else’s.


4. Ask for feedback


The easiest way to find out exactly how you’re performing is to ask for feedback. This might come from a monthly review or a weekly one-to-one with your boss. However it comes, personal feedback will let you know exactly how you’re doing and what areas you need to improve in. It should also offer you some affirmation that you actually belong in the position you are in.


5. Don’t attribute your success to luck


Thinking of your success as a product of luck is a surefire way to undermine your own achievements. You’ve got to the position you are in because of your work experience and personal talents – so don’t put yourself down! When describing your talents try not to use words like ‘only,’ or ‘merely.’ This will subconsciously lead you to place less value on these skills and lower your confidence.


6. Plan your week

A relatively simple thing to do to tackle the anxiety of Impostor Syndrome is just to plan your week. Having a detailed hour-to-hour plan of what you intend to work on will give more guidance and structure to your daily routine. If you know exactly what needs doing and when you intend to do it you will feel busier and more important. Feeling important and useful at work is key to job satisfaction and will really help to banish negative thoughts.