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What can we do to combat Imposter Syndrome?

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In the second of our blogs on Imposter Syndrome Catherine Hamilton looks at some of the practical steps we can all take to stamp it out

In the last blog we looked at why Imposter Syndrome is on the rise and what signs to be aware of.

Whilst we all may experience Imposter Syndrome, some will experience it more intensely and therefore more impactfully than others. It is likely to be more prevalent amongst people working in areas where they are in the obvious minority. They may already feel less like they belong with less role models who look or sound like them. If someone believes they achieved a task or a job because of luck or because they helped the organisation reach their diversity target, it doesn’t play well to building their self-confidence through their own success.

If we add to this the negative impact of banter in the workplace, and the likelihood of being targeted if you don’t belong or are in a minority, Imposter Syndrome will be on the increase. Imposter Syndrome can inhibit us speaking up when we feel bullied or excluded and self-doubt would also stop us supporting someone else. So, we must stamp it out and all take responsibility for creating more inclusive workplaces where we all feel we belong.

So, what are the practical steps we can take?

Self Help
• Be more open and talk about it – name it and work out where the Imposter Syndrome is coming from.
• Keep a journal of your achievements and progress – tangible evidence to counter those self-doubts.
• Seek feedback from those you trust and not those who are top of their game, on social media shouting about their successes – better still stop comparing yourself to others.
• Become a mentor or teacher to others – focusing on developing others can raise our awareness of our own abilities.
• Seek a coach who you can share your thoughts with and help you reframe and then develop.

What can we all be doing?
• In high pressure workplaces there can be a stigma around feeling anxious or having self-doubt so the more we can talk about it, the more we reduce that stigma. Be curious and listen to your colleagues. Over the pandemic, mental health became less of a taboo subject. Imposter Syndrome can take that same journey.
• Give out and reiterate positive feedback to others – and really mean it. Notice when it is ignored or met with a negative response. Despite the evidence that would suggest they have the skills, experience and achievements Imposter Syndrome is not a logical state of mind. It is a felt, emotional dynamic. So, when often when people hear positive feedback, they turn it around in a negative way. For example, “I really liked the way you presented that report – very unusual.” They may question – how did you expect me to present it? Did I get it wrong? This over-thinking can be wearing and a distraction from the job at hand.
• The EY survey The Belonging Barometer Survey found that regular check-ins from colleagues (enquiring about how people are, not just the “transactional” conversations) kept them engaged and contributed to a greater sense of belonging.
• Managers should ask themselves, “Is there a culture of long work hours?”. Working late can lead to burnout and a feeling of never being enough. Be clear about outcomes and not about hours needing to be worked or which location to work from.
• Businesses should be looking at what it is about their culture that allows Imposter Syndrome to exist: how are recognition and reward framed? How is feedback shared? How do we measure success?
• We should remain open and curious about creating a workplace free from exclusion, inappropriate behaviours and where we encourage broader networking and socialisation, encourage different ways of working and actively develop everyone.
• Avoidance or self-depreciation are signs of Imposter Syndrome which in turn means not putting yourself forward for opportunities or promotion. Coaching conversations can help with recognising this in ourselves and helping managers deal with their staff who are experiencing Imposter Syndrome. If we can be more open and honest and create the psychological safety required, we could eradicate Imposter Syndrome.

Through greater awareness and taking actions such as these, we can all be part of the solution and ensure our workplaces are inclusive where contributions are valued and that it is OK to be honest about how we feel.

If you would like help with creating a more inclusive workplace where belonging is key or to help individuals or managers recognise the signs of Imposter Syndrome and override them. Please contact us for a confidential discussion; phone us on 01903 732 782, email us at or contact us.