Understanding and preventing Imposter Syndrome as you bring staff back to work

Wednesday May 5, 2021

Many business owners will soon be gearing up to bring staff back to work. Some already have done and find themselves navigating the post-lockdown workplace with new challenges for people management.

We often hear talk of getting “back to normal”, but question just how normal work can be after more than a year of the pandemic? Businesses and the people within them have changed.

Managers and team leaders may find that they need to adjust in order to support staff and help them reach their full potential, post-lockdown.

A key area for consideration is that some staff may feel nervous to return, especially after prolonged time off, or if they are returning to a different role with new responsibilities.

This is understandable and nerves are to be expected after such a life changing event with much uncertainty. However, if they are left unaddressed, they can spiral and lead to complications.

What is Imposter Syndrome?

The impact of the pandemic on mental health is expected to outlast the presence of the virus. One such risk for managers to remain aware of, which can arise from periods of uncertainty, is Imposter Syndrome.

Imposter Syndrome is a debilitating condition that can leave capable, experienced employees second guessing their abilities. The self-doubt caused by Imposter Syndrome can make a person feel as though they are masquerading in their role. They imagine that at any moment they could be found out and exposed as a fraud, despite having a proven track record of success.

This can be very stressful. An employee with Imposter Syndrome may be experiencing anxious thoughts, they may agonise over mishaps, and their work and health can suffer as a result.

Why does Imposter Syndrome happen?

There are many complex factors that make up an individual’s susceptibility to Imposter Syndrome. From childhood upbringing to struggles with confidence or underrepresentation.

It can happen to almost anyone, although a higher presence of symptoms has been reported amongst high achievers and those from minority groups. Research tells us that women, LGBTQ+ and people of colour are more likely to be affected.

Time away from work, whether that be maternity leave or furlough, can also play a part.

Preventing Imposter Syndrome in the workplace

A positive to come from the past year is that stigmas surrounding mental health are dissolving.

Conversations around the importance of maintaining good mental health, in addition to good physical health, are becoming more common place.

A supportive, encouraging, and inclusive company culture can minimise feelings of isolation, which fuel an anxious mind. Whilst positioning failures as growth can help to tackle the unattainable perfectionism of Imposter Syndrome.

Admitting self-doubt in one’s own abilities at work can be a hard topic for employees to broach. However if they feel valued and know that your door is always open, they are more likely to open up and seek support.

Lastly, you may like to consider a training and development programme that acknowledges and celebrates milestones in learning. It can be helpful to remind employees of the knowledge they have gained during their time at your company.

Managing with confidence

Understanding and combatting Imposter Syndrome can lead to wider discussions about the well-being of your workforce. If you have doubts about how to proceed, remember that we are here to help.

Preventing People Problems

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