Do you feel like a fraud in work and worry that you’re going to be found out: like you’re ‘playing’ at your job and you actually have no idea what you’re doing?
Working in marketing recruitment, I have the pleasure of meeting talented and fascinating individuals every day. Sitting down and getting under the skin of what makes a person tick, as well as talking through the basics (skill-set, experience, job history), is one of my favourite parts of the role and can lead to some incredibly inspirational conversations.
With skilled and talented candidates, who are undervalued and underpaid, registering with Network Marketing every day, it’s my job to make sure that you brilliant bunch reach your true potential and get offered the right next step for a new role.
It can be shocking when candidates, who are clearly capable, doubt themselves in their new position. I’m seeing it more and more, at all levels, candidates who, despite being highly regarded and achieving great things, doubt their ability to succeed within the workplace.
Imposter Syndrome (a term coined in 1978 by Dr. Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes) is defined as high-achieving individuals marked by an inability to internalise their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a ‘fraud’. Perhaps often dismissed as a semblance of being humble or modest, it can actually have a long-term detrimental affect on an individual’s performance if not addressed by the ‘imposter’ themselves or their managers. In several cases I’ve seen it lead to candidates quitting their jobs entirely, as they feel non-deserving of a new role or salary increase.
Evidence from the time of shoulder pads and synthesizers shows that 70% of people have felt like imposters at one time or another, a feeling that will demonstrate itself through:
• Use of charm Particularly seen in client services employees (but not limited to) - they will deliberately build close relationships with other members of staff to overcompensate for their lack of confidence and when praised for good work, put it down to the relationship, not the work itself.
• Diligence Mainly prevalent amongst project management and traffic management roles (but not limited to) - talented employees will compensate for feeling out of place by putting in a lot of hard work including extra hours and being very meticulous.
• Feeling of being phony By giving clients or other employees the answers they think they want, rather than having confidence in their own knowledge, the ‘imposter’ will allow their feeling of being phony to perpetuate upon itself and increase their feeling of ‘being a fake’.
• Demonstrating symptoms of anxiety The ‘imposter’ will show signs of anxiety and lack of confidence in their work, despite having demonstrated capability previously.
Imposter Syndrome can be very self destructive and lead to larger issues if left unaddressed, it’s important support is offered by both employee and employer.
If an employee is showing signs it’s important to:
• Discuss the topic as soon as initial signs appear
• Talk it through with other individuals on a similar career path, preferably a mentor or a successful senior team member
• Offer support and structure from day one to prevent the feeling taking hold
• Clearly outline job roles with achievable and measurable targets
• If you’re new employee has come through a recruiter, communicate their successes so it can be fedback
If you’re feeling inadequate or like an imposter in your workplace there are several things you can do to address it:
• Acknowledge your feelings and understand that you’re not alone
• Speak to senior members of the team that you respect about your feelings, they will most likely have experienced the same and can offer some advice
• Make a list of previous achievements; accept that you have had some role in your successes
• Make a list of measurable and achievable goals and cross them off as you reach each one
• Develop a strong support system, preferably work-based , so they can feedback on your performance
• If you’ve gained a new role through a recruiter, feed these feelings back to them, they can offer support through this and provide insight into your performance in your new role to help you overcome these.
All in all, remember you’re not alone!
“The beauty of the impostor syndrome is you vacillate between extreme egomania and a complete feeling of: ‘I’m a fraud! Oh God, they’re on to me! I’m a fraud!’ So you just try to ride the egomania when it comes and enjoy it, and then slide through the idea of fraud.” – Tina Fey
“I still think people will find out that I’m really not very talented. I’m really not very good. It’s all been a big sham.” – Michelle Pfeifer
“Sometimes I wake up in the morning before going off to a shoot, and I think, I can’t do this. I’m a fraud.” – Kate Winslet
Credit where credit’s due:
I have also popped a version of this up on LinkedIn