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Why imposter syndrome persists in the workplace, and how to deal with it

By TechRepublic

The majority of employees feel inadequate or unconfident in their capabilities at some point, but an inclusive workplace can help mediate those problemsRead full story

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  • Arianna Huffington
    Arianna HuffingtonproFounder and CEO at Thrive Global

    Everybody suffers from “imposter syndrome” at some point. And this can have real consequences for businesses. But, as Macy Bayern points out, there are certain things workplaces can do to help their employees move past it and be their best and most productive selves.

  • Beth Comstock
    Beth Comstock proAuthor

    I’m not a good actor or poker player so not good at faking the confidence part. I’ve found it more by setting small goals to move myself forward — ie asking a question or stating an opinion in a new setting. Over time it builds confidence. It takes humility to say “I don’t know.” Company cultures can do more to instill this kind of openness, as opposed to “success theater.” It’s no wonder that someone feels like an imposter when everyone else pretends like they know everything!

  • Jay Margolis
    Jay MargolisChairman at Intuit Consulting

    On my tombstone “ but I still haven’t figured it out yet”. Always need to be a little over your head

  • Mark  White
    Mark White Founder at White Label Media

    I remember being completely in awe of CNN President Tom Johnson and the fact Wolf Blitzer called his office. when I was right out of college. I later learned he used to hide under his desk because of the pressure and what sounds like imposter syndrome. It obviously affects everyone from top execs to entry level positions.

    There are impressive startups out there like Tokyo-based Attuned, that use A.I to learn about individual employee motivation as well as perform regular check-ins. And it is works

    I remember being completely in awe of CNN President Tom Johnson and the fact Wolf Blitzer called his office. when I was right out of college. I later learned he used to hide under his desk because of the pressure and what sounds like imposter syndrome. It obviously affects everyone from top execs to entry level positions.

    There are impressive startups out there like Tokyo-based Attuned, that use A.I to learn about individual employee motivation as well as perform regular check-ins. And it is works! Reduces turnover significantly and helps avoid catastrophic hiring mistakes/mismatches.

  • Amy Miller
    Amy MillerPresident at Miller Mediation and Solution

    Fake it until you make it. Anytime you jump into a new role, this stage is a reality. You don’t know what you don’t know... yet. Hang in there. There are so many changes occurring in the workforce, every day is full of innovation. While it’s a nebulous place to be, get excited as you are going places no one else has gone.

  • David Yakobovitch
    David YakobovitchAI Professor at Galvanize

    As @Amy Miller said the Fake it till you make it mentality is essential. Not only that, but you have to be willing to make bold bets.

  • Kandice Levero
    Kandice LeveroSenior Art Director at Valtech_

    I’m fascinated by imposter syndrome. I have a friend who is a top researcher at FB, before that, Google, and yet she still suffers from this. I’m confronting it just recently as I try to expand my skills with new programs that I feel “everybody” in my field already knows. But they don’t, it’s just an insecurity that feeds the imposter syndrome. I just keep telling myself, in a few weeks, you’ll be the one who can crush that program too!

  • Naveen Jain
    Naveen JainproFounder & CEO at Viome

    I think eastern philosophy of focusing on actions and input (factors that one considered for the actions) are more important than outcome. Western philosophy of focus on goals and outcomes is the major reason for imposter syndrome. Jeff Bezos rewards his team based on input rather than output. This allows best people to work on the toughest projects that may not have much odds to succeed instead of taking on projects that are very likely to succeed.

  • Holly Ojalvo
    Holly Ojalvotalent lab editor at Quartz

    I'm fortunate to be working in an organization that recognizes the power and value of coaching and mentorship and privileged to be in a role that enables me to support others. Hopefully that helps mitigate any imposter syndrome my colleagues might feel.

  • Helen Hoefele
    Helen HoefeleBlogger at HelenHoefele.com

    I thought imposter syndrome was more likely to occur when applying for jobs, but it looks like it can happen at any point in a career. I guess I need to stop waiting until I "get more practice in" or "build more and better personal portfolio projects" and just go with what I've got. Confidence grows with action, with many small successes that build on themselves, that's the mindset I try to keep reminding myself about. It is easy to forget that all though, too.

  • Psychological safety and acceptance by peers serves an important purpose when it comes to self esteem. If you have the opportunity to make someone feel good about something do it. It does not cost anything to pull people up.

  • This is a common occurrence in business and leadership, due to the so-called Peter Principle, which states that people are promoted to positions of leadership based on previous performances in unrelated roles, instead of their appropriateness for the current one.

  • Sumeet Shah
    Sumeet ShahBacking brands at Swiftarc Ventures

    Imposter Syndrome is the worst.

    Aside: I would love to see a poker game with Beth Comstock and Arianna Huffington...

  • Michael Erisman
    Michael Erisman

    One of the keys to happiness is to stop comparing your insides (how you feel) to other people’s outsides (how you perceive they feel). Remember, your job is basically paid grad school, so embrace always feeling uncomfortable and always learning.

  • Greg Vetter
    Greg VetterCEO at Tessemae’s

    Does feeling like an imposter need to be negative? Can’t it be fuel to push you forward to learn and grow? All the while knowing you will feel like an imposter if you get promoted? And instead of it being something to fix it should be sought out? If you don’t feel like an imposter does that mean you are complacent or even worse, lacking awareness?

  • Kyo Kaku
    Kyo KakuVice President at China-Japan J/V

    Continuous denial by others mostly constitutes one’s fear of inadequacy. It’s imperative for managements to foster a mood of affirmation.

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