Overcoming Imposter Syndrome: Surviving the Silent Epidemic at Work

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome: Surviving the Silent Epidemic at Work

Experts refer to imposter syndrome as a sense of self-doubt related to work accomplishments. A recent study states that approximately 82% of employees face imposter syndrome. Undoubtedly, your workplace culture plays a significant role in the prevalence of imposter syndrome. Workplaces dominated by individualism and competition create a sense of insecurity among employees. These environments value overachieving, fueling feelings of isolation and inadequacy.

Imposter syndrome, being a pervasive phenomenon, significantly influences business performance. Employees suffering from the syndrome often hesitate to accept new challenges, refrain from contributing ideas, and experience higher stress levels and burnout. In this blog post, we will learn more about imposter syndrome and tips on how individuals and managers can overcome it in the workplace.

Recognizing Imposter Syndrome

In the opinions of experts, employees exhibiting the signs of imposter syndrome face difficulty in accepting compliments. Besides, they even abstain from asking for help; for them, it’s a sign of failure. How can I know if my employees have imposter syndrome? Your employees have imposter syndrome if they exhibit the following practices.

Giving Others Credit for Success

You need to realize success or accomplishments. You accolade for other reasons, except the one for the praise. Individuals with a healthy knowledge of self–esteem will take credit for any hard-earned achievements. If you have imposter syndrome, you will praise others but have problems accepting it. Therefore, it’s essential to encourage employees to accept credit at the workplace.

Taking Unnecessary Pressure

Do you over-prep for every meeting and stay back to work even after your team members leave? Perhaps you constantly compare yourself and cannot handle the constant anxiety, as you are yet to give your best. Does it sound similar? These are signs of imposter syndrome, and you try to escape it. Individuals with the syndrome often try to overcompensate with fear and avoid someone finding them. However, with success, the fear starts worsening, causing an escalating cycle and an unbearable situation.

Struggling with Burnout

You might struggle with burnout for years, leading to imposter syndrome. Burnout is a condition caused by continuous occupational stress, and you find it difficult to cope. How will you understand if you have a problem coping with stress? Here are three characteristics you must look at. These include reduced work effectiveness, exhaustion or fatigue, and increased pressure and negativity from the job.

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Consequences of Imposter Syndrome

Individuals with imposter syndrome experience a persistent fear that others consider them frauds despite their accomplishments. The self-doubt and fear can manifest in several ways and affect their psychological well-being and job performance. These include:

Reduced Self-Confidence

Imposter syndrome leads to a lack of self-confidence, causing individuals to question their skills and abilities. This lack of confidence makes them hesitant to take on new challenges or responsibilities, limiting their potential growth and success.

Fear of Failure

Your employees with imposter syndrome have an intense fear of failure. The fear paralyzes them and prevents them from taking risks or pursuing opportunities, hindering personal and professional growth.

Stress and Anxiety

When your employee constantly feels like a fraud and fears that others will discover it, it can lead to high stress and anxiety levels. The emotional turmoil interferes with your employee’s concentration and focus, negatively affecting performance.

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome at Workplace

We know that overcoming imposter syndrome at your workplace can be challenging. However, it’s possible with the right strategy and mindset. Here are some tips that will help you in overcoming imposter syndrome.

Give Yourself a Reality Check

The first step towards overcoming imposter syndrome involves noticing your negative thoughts. Instead of sucking into negative thoughts, ensure to make a self-affirming statement. Your emotional state affects your perception. If you are anxious about a tight deadline or a challenging project, observing your emotions and triggers is essential. It helps you understand the appropriate coping mechanisms you must use.

Keep Track of Your Strengths and Accomplishments

Focusing on your overflowing inbox, to-do list, mistakes, and weaknesses is easier than your strengths and accomplishments. Make another list with all your skills and accomplishments that make you uniquely qualified for your position so that it stays in your mind on a bad day. Alternatively, you can also use a work journal and write down all the positive feedback you received. It will help you follow a pattern about how you succeed and where you must develop within your role.

Develop Your Knowledge Bank

Are you working on overcoming your imposter syndrome? The truth is that won’t happen overnight. However, you can adopt concrete ways and prevent it from sabotaging you. We all know knowledge is power, and it’s true. The more you learn about your job and industry and focus on your professional development, the more power you have.

Take Help of a Mentor

Having a coach or a mentor helps you build self-awareness. Most people set impossible standards and believe that with self-awareness, people accept them in the mainstream. Your mentor can be anyone- from your project manager to your colleague. When you have a mentor, you build strong relationships at your workplace. You will communicate more easily, explore and learn new things, reduce stress and anxiety, develop innovative ideas, and work confidently. Ensure to be in touch with your mentor through a good collaboration tool so that you can reach them for help anytime.

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Strategies Adopted by Managers to Overcome Imposter Syndrome at Workplace

When managers address imposter syndrome in our organizations, we create a nurturing work environment. Our employees feel empowered to overcome self-doubt and reach their full potential. You can consider the following strategies while overcoming imposter syndrome at your organization.

Create a Supportive Environment

One of the best ways to combat imposter syndrome for you and your teams is by creating a work environment that acknowledges risk and strives to minimize it. Open up about your struggles to your workers, and acknowledge that you feel the same way sometimes.

Ensure to create a workplace environment that is psychologically safe where your employees can express their struggles without fearing the consequences, rejection, and judgment for insecurities. As an organizational leader, train your managers to encourage their team members to work hard, strive for improvement, and welcome the ability to learn and grow from mistakes.

Reward Progress Instead of Perfection

Perfectionism is the habit of individuals where you strive for something unachievable. No one can attain a state of perfection and maintain it throughout. When you fail to recognize the futility of perfectionism, you cause delays, procrastination, rushed work, and non-existent results. What can you do? Embrace the prospect of steady, consistent progress and encourage your managers and team leaders to follow the same.

Imposter syndrome creates one of the biggest obstacles in your employees- the internal tsunami of fear. This fear can cause your employees to struggle with self-doubt, paralyzing and complicating everything. The best possible way to beat the syndrome is to aim for progress and move forward.

Celebrate and Reward Accomplishments

Anyone struggling with imposter syndrome feels the individual does not belong to your organization, with you and their team. How can you overcome the feeling and replace it with something more productive? Create a corporate culture that recognizes and celebrates progress. When your employees achieve a new qualification certification or complete a project, celebrate and reward the accomplishment.

Welcome and Value Open Input

You can tell your employees they are the most valuable members of your organization. However, if you want to land and stick, you must show them how much you value their contributions and work. What is the best way? Make it a policy to seek and give attention to inputs in various circumstances.

Whether you hold a one-on-one or all-hands meeting, ensure that everyone gives their input and you listen to all of them. Prohibit offensive, disrespectful, and dismissive reactions to others’ input and take it seriously. Welcoming your employees’ creative energy, passion, and suggestions helps them defeat self-doubt and low self-esteem.

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Be the Support Your Employees Need

As a manager and organizational leader, you are in the best possible position to adjust your organization’s culture to support your employees, helping them improve their self-worth. Take them seriously and demonstrate their value to your company’s mission, offering them the proof and contributing to the individual and team’s success.


Since imposter syndrome causes a feeling of self-doubt, it significantly affects your employees’ well-being and performance and your organization. When you implement effective strategies to address the issues, you create a nurturing work environment, empowering your employees to overcome self-doubt and reach their full potential. Through recognition, open communication, and support, you help your employees combat imposter syndrome and unlock their true capabilities.

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