How to manage imposter syndrome in your graduate employees
What is imposter syndrome?
Imposter syndrome is a psychological pattern in which someone doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalised fear of being exposed as a fraud. “What if I get found out and people see I am not as able as everybody thinks I am?”
It can affect anyone from any country and any walk of life at any time. One of the key things about it is that, because you are so ashamed and afraid of being found out, you never talk about it. This perpetuates it and also keeps it hidden, so we don’t realise how common it is.
As with perfectionism, it is important to recognise the bullying inner voice that is feeding you these beliefs and to find a different voice to combat it: aim to be a better, kinder friend to yourself.
How can you address it with your graduate employees?
Help them to recognise it’s not unusual
Experiencing imposter syndrome can feel very isolating. By its very nature it can make employees feel as though they don’t belong. Work to bolster confidence and morale where possible.
Help them complete a reality check
Would they actually be in this job if they weren’t good enough? Help them to separate feelings from fact. Just because you feel something doesn’t mean it’s true.
You are much more likely to feel you don’t belong and suffer from imposter syndrome if you are in the ‘minority’. We still live in an environment where the prototype for a powerful person in authority is a white, middle-aged man. People can face barriers based on gender, race, sexuality, socio-economic background and disability (including mental health). You are much more likely to suffer from imposter syndrome if you don’t feel you belong or because you are in a minority.
Have diverse role models
Evidence shows that workplaces that embrace gender and ethnic diversity in executive teams are 25% and 36% more productive respectively. Be confident in addressing these issues. Having visible diverse role models in senior positions will go a long way to helping combat imposter syndrome.
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