What is imposter syndrome?
Imposter syndrome is ‘a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their skills, talents, or accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”’.
Those struggling with this may feel, despite other evidence, that they are undeserving of their achievements. A common example is believing that they have somehow managed to deceive people into thinking they are more accomplished than they actually are. Alternatively, sufferers may feel they have achieved their position through luck.
Forbes reported that a study found up to 75% of women in executive positions have experienced imposter syndrome. It seems that imposter syndrome is most common in women, those in new jobs, and jobs with a high level of responsibility.
Imposter syndrome can lead to low mood and anxiety if not addressed, affecting the wellbeing of those who suffer with it long term.
If you’re a manager, there are steps you can take to protect the wellbeing of your team and help overcome imposter syndrome in your workplace.
Given that imposter syndrome is particularly common in new hires, you can start the feedback early.
When you interview someone, highlight why you selected them for interview. On hiring, explain what it was about their application process which made you chose them.
You should then aim to give regular feedback, both positive and negative. When providing negative feedback, try to phrase it in a constructive way that will aid the growth of the individual. Progress meetings are one way to add structure to your feedback sessions.
Simple measures, such as a regular email highlighting the achievements of your team can go a long way. When a colleague has done something well, aim to share this success with the team, on top of your individual feedback
Whilst imposter syndrome is often irrational, it can also be a result of a lack of guidance and training. Ensure that you give comprehensive training to new team members, and if possible provide mentorship opportunities.
Regular team training sessions are also important, even for seasoned employees.
Promote good mental wellbeing
Implementing measures to promote good mental wellbeing is the most important step in overcoming imposter syndrome. Mindfulness in particular can help your team to recognise and work through their imposter syndrome.
Mindfulness is a type of meditation which aims to bring awareness to how you are feeling, both physically and mentally, in the present moment. This self-awareness has many benefits, including improved mood, reduced stress, and better decision making and focus. In mindfulness, key attitudes like non-judging and letting go can help your team to practice self compassion. This will help them to overcome imposter syndrome.
Other wellbeing programmes could include:
- Mental health first aid.
- Wellbeing reports.
- Nutrition courses.
All of these measures are proven to help you improve and monitor the wellbeing of your team. Furthermore, promoting good mental wellbeing creates an environment of acceptance and openness. When your team feel supported, they are more likely to feel able to discuss their wellbeing in the workplace. At Wellbeing in Your Office, we want to help you to reduce imposter syndrome in your workplace: you can find out more about the services we offer here.