Imposter syndrome - the new mental wellbeing challenge

Imposter syndrome - the new mental wellbeing challenge

  • Date: Friday 26th November 2021
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According to a recent study published by HRNews, 77% of UK workers display signs of ‘imposter syndrome’.

What is it?

Imposter syndrome is the feeling of not being good enough, feeling like an imposter at work. Common characteristics of the condition are:

  • Doubting yourself
  • Being unable to accurately assess your competence and skills
  • Attributing your success to external factors
  • Criticising your job performance
  • Being afraid of disappointing

Spotting the issue in friends or colleagues can be tricky, since there is obviously a fine line between healthy self-criticism and unhealthy self-deprecation.

Watch out for:

  • Nervousness
  • Tense behaviour
  • Stress symptoms such as emotional snapping or becoming withdrawn
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Unhealthy eating behaviours
  • Slow-down of work output due to too much checking
  • Frequent apologies for insignificant issues
  • An increase in questions on subjects the individual is usually comfortable with

Not dealing with imposter syndrome can lead to more serious mental health issues, typically related to stress and anxiety.

What can we do?

Openly admitting to being overly self-critical goes against the very nature of someone who suffers from imposter syndrome. So simply telling them that they are doing a good job will not be enough. Instead, work with your colleagues on strategies that will help build resilience and self-confidence.

  • Facts over feelings – By establishing measurable objectives, everyone will be able to objectively assess if a job was well done.
  • Share experiences – Chances are this issue may be a shared one. So, encouraging communication may help.
  • Revisit job descriptions – By taking a step back and reviewing basic requirements of the role, you may be able to put your team member’s mind at rest about having earnt their seat at the table.
  • Review performance… the right way! – Ask your team member to do the talking during a performance review. Forcing objective self-analysis may lead to the creation of more transparent goals.
  • Promote conversation, not publication – Social media can be a great way to connect teams but there is also a real risk of alienating those that feel less ‘worthy’. Make sure no one gets left behind when you are sharing successes, pictures and stories of the perfect lives of others.

Source: Manuela Grossmann

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