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New Employee Imposter Syndrome and How to Combat It

New Employee Imposter Syndrome and How to Combat It

 As the job market is filled with new faces, organizations are faced with the task of integrating inexperienced employees into a healthy and supportive work culture. While new hires may have the tools necessary for success, they are not any less susceptible to the phenomenon of imposter syndrome—a false assumption that they don’t deserve their position or accomplishments and are merely “faking” their way through their career.  

To combat imposter syndrome in new employees, managers can employ strategies that cultivate communication while also ensuring structures are in place to support employees who suffer from misplaced feelings of inadequacy. 

 

Identifying Imposter Syndrome in New Employees

An employee may be experiencing imposter syndrome if you notice any of the following signs: 

  1. Self-doubt. When it comes to imposter syndrome, self-doubt may appear as a lack of confidence in their work, their knowledge, and their experience. The job of a manager is not to armchair diagnose the employee and their reasons for their self doubt, but to recognize it when it occurs and consider avenues to reassure an employee.    
  2. Perfectionism. When employees pay critical attention to their work beyond what is reasonably expected, they may fail to ever find their work satisfactory. While some managers may consider this a positive trait, the employee may seek perfection at the risk of their ability to accomplish other tasks or manage work-related stress.  
  3. Workaholism. When an employee overworks themselves, they risk burnout or overburdening themselves with extra projects. An employee experiencing imposter syndrome may do this to feel they are contributing to their team by doing more than is required.  

 

How Onboarding Can Reduce Imposter Syndrome

Walking into a new office on the first day with no knowledge of an organization’s culture, systems, technology, or even how to make coffee can be a daunting prospect. An onboarding process can mitigate the nerves of new employees by using a culture guide and 30-60-90 plan. 

A culture guide covers all things a new hire may not be able to gather intuitively about the company– this may include preferred methods of address or communication, information on parking, ways to source office supplies, IT help, and more. The 30-60-90 plan delves into the more personal day-to-day of a new position, outlining the first 30, 60, and 90 days of expected training and assignments. This plan makes expectations clear and allows employees to track their progress.  

Immediately introducing pillars of an organization’s culture and day-to-day expectations can help prevent imposter syndrome. Clear guides and reasonable trajectories provide much-needed structure at the beginning of an employee’s tenure, and may also work as a tool of reflection later in their career as they note their progress and successes.

 

Management Strategies for Long-Term Success 

Many new employees experience imposter syndrome, but existing employees do as well– 70% of people experience it at some point. Managers can solve or mitigate imposter syndrome by recognizing the signs and deploying strategies to successfully reduce these feelings. 

Here are some management strategies for helping employees with imposter syndrome: 

  • Encourage communication. Employees who can talk about their fears or have their questions answered patiently are more likely to feel comfortable in their position. 
  • Have 1:1 meetings. Regular check-ins with direct managers can help employees feel secure in their progress and expectations.  
  • Provide detailed resources. Having a shared drive or organized system for employees to reference can help new hires answer their own questions and work from existing, successful frameworks. This helps them build confidence in their own work as they have the experience of others to refer to.  
  • Reframe negatives. While not all work will be perfect and mistakes will be made, assure an employee that all experiences are learning experiences and will inform their future decisions, resulting in long-term success.  
  • Deal only in facts. An employee may agonize over future mistakes or perceived problems. Manage this by pointing out the immediate goals and accomplishments. Allowing employees to stress over potential future issues may blind them to the concrete successes of their current situation. 

These strategies can create a positive workplace environment that helps prevent imposter syndrome from taking root in an employee’s outlook. Beginning a new job can be nerve-wracking, but managers can recognize the signs and utilize the above strategies to lessen the likelihood of imposter syndrome in their organization.    

 

Additional Resources

You can stay informed, educated, and up-to-date with important HR topics using BerniePortal’s comprehensive resources:

  • BerniePortal Blog—a one-stop-shop for HR industry news
  • HR Glossary—featuring the most common HR terms, acronyms, and compliance
  • HR Guides—essential pillars, covering an extensive list of comprehensive HR topics
  • BernieU—free online HR courses, approved for SHRM and HRCI recertification credit
  • HR Party of One—our popular YouTube series and podcast, covering emerging HR trends and enduring HR topics

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