It’s a psychological phenomenon that can prevent high-potential individuals from excelling in your world of business. In this article we’ll be exploring the ways it may show itself in individuals, and what your organization can do to combat its effect on your workforce.

What is ‘Imposter Syndrome’?

Imposter Syndrome is a psychological phenomenon, in which a high-achieving or successful individual doubts their talent and holds back from takings risks for fear of failure. This means that they’ll show signs of self-doubt, lack of confidence and fear of taking on new challenges. gives a more thorough list of the signs that an individual is suffering with ‘Imposter Syndrome’:

  • Inability to internalize achievements and downplaying accomplishments
  • Fear of being ‘found out’ or being exposed as inexperienced or untalented
  • Avoidance of feedback
  • A reluctance to ask for help
  • Turning down new opportunities
  • Second-guessing decisions
  • Overworking to the point of burning out to prove they’re enough
  • Failing to start or finish projects

Why should organizations worry about ‘Imposter Syndrome’ in the workplace?

Studies have found that 70% of people will report experiencing imposter syndrome at some point in their careers. Which means that this is more common than you may think. It can affect not only the progress of the individual but also the productivity of the organization itself. This is because it can result in a high turnover of employees and prevent companies from achieving their diversity goals. tell us that ‘Imposter Syndrome’ is exacerbated in workplaces that:

  • Thrive on competition and comparison
  • Have poor communication and unclear expectations
  • Lack of diversity and mentorship which can reinforce a sense of isolation or ‘otherness’

Here are 5 things your organization could be doing to combat ‘Imposter Syndrome’ within the workforce

Training and Mentorship

By supplying high-quality training an organization is preparing the individual for their new role and providing guide as to what is expected of that individual. Therefore, an in-depth and clearly communicated onboard program is vital for new employees starting with any organization.

Alongside this, internal mentorship schemes offer to your staff an added support for a prolonged period of time. This means that for a period of months or years, an new starter has the opportunity to have regular meetings with a supervisor or manager, where they can reflect on their progress and voice any concerns. This will also be a good step for your organisation to improve the inclusivity of the workplace and employee retention rates.

Click here to find out more about how mentorship can benefit everyone.

Utilize Feedback for Development

There are tools such as 360 assessments and retrospectives which organizations can use to provide employees with growth-focused feedback. In giving individuals specific feedback, aimed at developing their skills, it communicates clearly what is expected of the individual, and promotes a supportive environment.

Recognise Their Achievements

It’s important that employers actively recognise the achievements of their employees, rather than their intelligence or talent. This means that you will be recognising them for the work they do and the process that they have used to achieve it. This shows the individual that the way you value them is through what they achieve, not the late nights, not by comparison to other employees.

Create a Culture of Inclusion

Perhaps the most important of all is to create a workplace of inclusion, in which your employees feel valued. It can be as simple as giving everyone the same amount of time to speak. The benefits of inclusivity and diversity in the workplace are endless, including higher employee retention rates, improved productivity, and increased business profits. A valued employee is less likely to feel the need to overwork and stress about finishing tasks, symptoms of ‘Imposter Syndrome’.


Make Sure Management Have the Right Training and Tools

It’s important for management to have the right training and tools to be able to recognise the mental health of their team members. It’s vital for the mental health of team members to be monitored by managers and they should have the primary skills required to help those individuals. In some cases, it’s providing an open door, and being able to build a relationship/trust with employees. These skills applied in practice will allow employees to be more open and authentic, driving productivity and loyalty.

To Conclude

‘Imposter Syndrome’ is a difficult thing to tackle in the workplace, especially in businesses that thrive on competition and are target focused. These aren’t bad things, but it means that organizations have to be aware of these feelings that are experienced by the majority of their workforce at some point in their careers. If not, it’s probable that they will struggle achieving diversity goals and improving employee retention rates.

By beginning with one of these steps your organization can start the journey towards a healthier environment for your workforce.