To inform how we teach our assertiveness training courses we carried out some research into how assertive and confident people are feeling now that the pandemic is receding, we carried out some new, original research.
We polled 500 employees across a wide variety of industries and age groups to find out:
For more details on our sample size and methodology, see the bottom of this article.
This is part of a series of polls we have carried out. The other ones include:
Let’s take a look at what we found in more detail!
When reviewing the answers to our first question we were able to cut the data in a number of ways to drill down and discover more.
We defined assertiveness as people feeling able to speak up for their point of view and opinion at work even when they knew that it would be unpopular.
Our research showed that 88% of people think that they are assertive at work.
Our research showed that 80% of women believe that they are assertive at work.
Our research showed that 97% of men believe that they are assertive at work.
Amongst the people who thought that they were assertive, we were keen to learn whether they had always been assertive or had developed assertiveness over time.
19% (almost 1 in 5) of people said that they had always been assertive and so haven’t needed to learn to be more assertive. Interestingly, this did not vary at all between men and women.
Amongst people who had to learn to be more assertive, 57% said that they have naturally become more assertive with age. 18% said they had developed it through mentoring, another 18% said that they developed it through practice without external help and finally just 4% have been on a training course.
With this question, we were keen to learn if people felt that they had missed out (for example a promotion, interesting project or payrise) or by not being assertive enough and then if so try to understand which groups felt they had been most affected.
55% of people said that they thought they had missed work opportunities through a lack of assertiveness. 41% of people said that they didn’t feel they have missed out and 4% of people were unsure whether they had missed out.
A whopping 79% of those under 35 believe that they have missed out at work. This makes sense as young people are often less confident at work as they are more junior in hierarchies and learning to navigate the corporate world.
51% of older people believe that they’ve missed out at work through a lack of assertiveness.
Given that pandemic induced remote working appears to be here to stay, we wanted to understand if people found it easier or more difficult to be assertive on a video call.
54% of people find it easier to be assertive on a video call while 46% of people find it more difficult. This split was pretty much the same for men and women with 55% of men and 52% of women finding it easier to be assertive on a video call. Similarly, splitting answers between younger and older workers showed that 52% of younger workers and 59% of older workers found that Zoom made it easier to be assertive.
The research for these statistics was carried out using Pollfish. 500 people were surveyed.
It polled a representative sample of working people. It was evenly split between males (45%) and females (55%).
The research was evenly split between age groups, the percentages of each can be found below.
Photo by Alena Jarrett
Learning to manage people is a big job and takes a long time. Line management is a skill and one that needs to be developed.
Let’s now take a look at where you should be focusing once you get over those very early days.
You are now in the spotlight far more than you ever were previously.
Whether you like it or not your team will be watching how you act and dress, how you carry yourself and how you communicate in meetings.
You are a leader and a representative for your team in the wider organisation.
If you are not naturally a ‘sharp’ dresser you need to think about this and probably make some changes.
Look at your wardrobe objectively, or better yet ask a friend to advise you, and decide if your wardrobe fits the bill. If not you need to start making some changes.
This isn’t a change that has to happen overnight but is something that you need to get on with.
Although this is substance over form, it is important. Many people use the old saying ‘Clothes maketh the man’. We wouldn’t go that far but you need to put this up there as a priority and take action.
As time passes and you and your team start to settle in you’ll start to get a feel for them.
Now is the time to start publically showing people what is expected and what you want to encourage.
If someone goes the extra mile for a customer or works particularly hard on a project make sure to publically praise this. Your team will be watching and take note that that is what gets praised by you.
It doesn’t matter how this is done so long as it is done publically. That way your will team know that you’ve taken some time to publically highlight this particular behaviour.
The flip side of this is to make sure that you remember the old maxim of ‘praise in public, criticize in private’.
If you have a problem with someone’s performance or behaviour you must communicate this to them clearly but be sure to do it in private. Publically criticizing them isn’t going to lead to a productive useful conversation it will only serve to embarrass the person.
At a minimum, you will have lost the goodwill of one of your team for no benefit.
Far worse though is the message that this sends to your team. You have told them that you are not a manager to go to if things are going wrong as they will be publically criticised.
It is likely that you will find the first few months (as a minimum) of your new job very stressful.
Expect this and learn to manage it. A stressed manager is not a good manager.
Management requires patience, judgement and the ability to see the long term implications, not snap decisions and short term thinking. If your team starts to see you as arbitrary and stressed you will begin to lose their trust and your ability to influence them without giving direct orders.
If you don’t have a way of managing your stress then start looking at ways to do this. Everyone is different but everyone has something that helps them leave behind the stresses of the day whether it is yoga, running, cooking or something else completely. There are lots of different ways to manage stress.
If you already have an activity or hobby that you find very helpful for managing your stress make sure that you don’t drop it.
It would be natural for the increased workload and responsibility you’re facing to mean that you no longer make time for whatever it is. Avoid this as much as you can.
Time spent managing your stress is productive time just as much as time sitting in front of your computer.
Towards the end of your first month, you should begin to have a clear view on what your team’s key priorities should be.
If your view matches your predecessor’s count yourself lucky, this is pretty rare.
Much more likely is that you’ll want to adjust some of your team’s goals. It’s unlikely you’ll want to start making wholesale changes unless your predecessor made some big mistakes, but it is likely that you will want to make some changes.
Now that you understand how your team works it is time to start changing some of the goals.
Setting goals requires some thought. There are lots of really good frameworks to help with that so have a look and see which one works best for you.
The framework that we recommend most people use to start with is SMART.
If you’re trying to climb the career ladder and move into a managerial position, it can be challenging to know where to start.
Most positions require previous managerial experience, creating a Catch-22 situation.
How do you get your first management role?
You can’t become a manager because you lack experience but can’t get experience because you haven’t been a manager.
If this scenario sounds familiar, it is worth considering other ways to demonstrate your management ability to a potential boss in an interview or on your CV if you don’t have years of experience.
This article will discuss various ways to get management experience and demonstrate that you are ready for a managerial role.
Experience is vital when applying for a managerial position.
Companies tend to be risk-averse and prefer the person they hire to have already demonstrated their management skills, and ideally have attended management training as well.
They like to ask for specific examples of people management in interviews to understand how much experience candidates have.
This means that the best way to get a management job is to be a manager already.
Luckily, there are quite a few ways to demonstrate your ability as a manager without having experience in an official managerial position.
Let’s take a look.
There are lots of ways to demonstrate that you are ready to make the step up to a management position.
If you have consistently performed well in your current role, senior staff may offer you the opportunity to mentor newer team members to improve their skills.
Volunteering for this role will give you an experience of training and acting as a coach, a big part of the role of being a manager.
Helpfully it will also position you well if an internal vacancy for a manager comes up.
Most managers will be delighted to delegate projects if they trust you.
Offering to manage a project is a win-win.
Your manager has more free time for other strategic tasks, and you can get some much-needed managerial experience.
Perhaps you could organise the staff rota, manage the staff budget or even something as simple as planning a party.
By displaying your organisational skills and leadership, you will show employers that you have the experience and expertise needed to thrive in a managerial role.
Managers need to be creative and proactive in dealing with issues.
Proactively looking for ways to make your team more efficient or deal with problems is a great way to demonstrate that you possess the skills required for a management role.
From organising meetings to mediating disputes between team members, there are plenty of opportunities in everyday working life to show your leadership skills on an informal basis.
If colleagues can’t get along, attempting to build bridges between them demonstrates strong communication skills.
Demonstrate your organisational skills through simple tasks like planning meetings or ordering supplies effectively.
These small responsibilities won’t take up too much time and can be incorporated into your working day, but they could significantly impact how employers view your CV when a management job comes up.
If you can show your capability as a manager through a variety of non-managerial roles, your prospective employers will have more confidence in your suitability for the position.
While most opportunities to gain relevant skills will be at work, it is not the only place where you can gain management experience.
If you are part of a sports team or hobby group, there will be chances to improve your managerial skills and get the experience you need.
Many managerial techniques and responsibilities transfer from a working environment to a non-working environment, so try to develop these wherever you can.
Here are a couple of ways in which you can show that you are management material:
If you attend a group, volunteer to help with running it.
Organising is time-consuming, so those in charge are likely to appreciate the help, and you can gain relevant experience while you help out.
Whether sending out email invites, booking a meeting space or helping to set everything up, many tasks can provide evidence of your managerial capability.
Financial issues come with a lot of responsibility and require a high level of trust.
By looking after the finances of your club or group, you show that you are a trustworthy person with good organisational skills – precisely the sort of person employers are looking for.
Sometimes you will struggle for opportunities like the ones we’ve mentioned above.
If that’s the case, then whatever you are involved in, make sure you speak up and get noticed.
Managers have to lead, and by definition, that requires you to speak up and be noticed.
Speaking about times you were a ‘changemaker’ in an interview is a vital first step, even if you don’t have a more formal role like the ones we discussed above.
Demonstrating management experience is the key to getting a management job, as employers want to know that the person they hire can do the job.
It is not always easy to find ways to gain relevant experience.
However, with a bit of creative thinking and a positive attitude, there are plenty of ways to gain experience that shows you are suited to a managerial role.
An efficient and clearly defined management structure is key to the successful operation of a business.
A business will have a management hierarchy of individuals.
Each level of the hierarchy holds responsibility for managing a part (large or small) of the organisation.
Typically, an organisation’s management hierarchy can be split into three levels, even if in larger organisations, each of these three levels can themselves be sub-divided.
This article will explain how a three-level management system works and what each level does.
The three levels of management are:
In a company with a typical top-down organisational structure, the senior executives plan strategies and objectives and communicate these down to those lower in the business’s hierarchy.
Managers at lower levels (middle management and line management) are then tasked with overseeing the communication and implementation of these strategies.
Let’s look at each of these levels in more detail:
Level 3 is the top level of management and is where executive authority lies.
This always includes the chief executive/managing director and board of directors.
In larger businesses, level 3 also consists of the level of executives below the board of directors.
Staff at this level create the company’s strategic plans and broad policies and have responsibility for major decisions that will be implemented by those further down the hierarchy.
Top management is also responsible for communicating with shareholders and other external stakeholders.
Level 3 managers are generally focused on long-term and cultural issues and removed from the day-to-day nitty-gritty of the business.
Middle management provides a link between a company’s senior executives and line managers.
Their responsibilities involve communicating strategies down the chain of command and passing relevant issues to Level 3 management.
Middle management roles usually offer direct responsibility for a particular area – for example, a branch or a department manager.
Staff in the middle management of management are expected to monitor the performance of the lower level of management. They have a degree of autonomy in devising methods of improvement for their section of the business.
Staff at this level will be more concerned with the day-to-day running of the business than senior management but will also be expected to take a broader view of the company’s direction than line managers.
Line managers (also known as front-line managers or junior managers) are on the first rung of the management hierarchy and are responsible for the performance of front-line workers.
Staff members at this level are focused on day-to-day operations and developing their experience of management.
A line manager will have a range of responsibilities, including setting up rotas, providing advice and support to staff members, giving performance feedback and motivating their team.
Traditionally, most businesses have used a hierarchical management structure.
Experience has shown that it is the most effective way to run a business.
As with any organisational structure, there are advantages and disadvantages.
Let’s take a look.
The key benefit of a three-level management system is that it provides clarity.
When all staff members know to whom they need to report and who should report to them, the possibility for confusion is far lower.
A simple hierarchy of authority makes it easier to communicate information, ensuring everyone from the top of the company down is on the same page.
Defined roles ensure that everyone is accountable as responsibilities are clearly assigned.
Accountability ensures that good work will be recognised and underperformance won’t be missed.
A hierarchical organisation provides an identifiable career path for staff looking for new challenges and increased responsibility.
A clear hierarchy makes it easier to identify areas that are understaffed or overstaffed.
This allows for better deployment of resources.
By cutting out overlapping resources, you can improve efficiency without increasing expenditure.
By definition, a hierarchy places most of the responsibility at the top of the chain.
This can lead to a lack of engagement from lower-level staff, as they may feel a lack of agency and ownership.
A very hierarchical structure can lead to senior management being far removed from front-line workers.
In turn, this lack of front-line visibility can lead to senior managers making decisions that don’t work in practice with the obvious issues that can cause the business.
A three-level management system can be very rigid, with questions and decisions passing linearly up and down the levels.
In larger organisations especially, this can lead to slow decision-making and reduce the business’s ability to react to change.
No. Many businesses have explored alternative ways of organising themselves using technology to enable these new structures in recent years.
Some of these experiments have worked while others have not, and the business has reverted to a traditional three-level management structure after a time.
A fascinating example is Haier that has tried multiple management structures during its life.
There are two major categories of alternative management structures that have been tried:
Upside-down management puts authority and responsibility as much as possible in the hands of front-line workers.
An excellent example of this is Timpsons which empowers the workers in its shops to change prices and pay up to £500 to settle a complaint without referring to anyone else in the organisation.
This management method means that senior managers give up a significant degree of control, leading to individuals feeling far more empowered and trusted.
Where businesses have made it work, they have had rigorous HR standards to ensure that only appropriate people are recruited into the business.
Holacratic systems are a type of hierarchy where directives are passed down from the senior management team to groups of people.
The structure below the top level is flat, with all or most employees on the same level.
Groups are responsible for completing tasks and projects.
As there are no defined job roles, individuals take on specific tasks rather than working to a fixed job description.
Individuals may be recruited to be members of a specific group in a company or just recruited to the business depending on the implementation of the system.
If individuals are not part of a specific group, they will be ‘recruited’ into groups on a project-by-project basis.
Businesses like Zappos and Valve operate a holacratic system.
Buffer has taken this innovation further, doing away with managers entirely.
The software manufacturer has several ‘task forces’ that change regularly, with each individual taking a share of the responsibility for ensuring targets are met.
While modern businesses all have views on the most efficient structure for a successful organisation, the three-level management structure remains the most common.
As we have learned, there are potential drawbacks to this hierarchical system.
However, implemented effectively, it has proven benefits – providing clear lines of communication and authority.
Studies show that workers are more productive when they are happy.
Ensuring your team are motivated and enthusiastic is a crucial task for all line managers.
The difficulty is that different things drive different people.
To compound the problem, these drivers can change over time.
This article looks at some tried and tested ways to keep your team motivated and some pitfalls you should avoid.
Motivation is the drive a person has to achieve their goals.
In part, this drive will be innate or intrinsic. Different people are born with different levels of drive.
However, drive can also be generated extrinsically.
This is what a line manager needs to focus on generating.
The most significant contributors to extrinsic motivation are:
By encouraging team members to maximise their effort, a line manager can improve their team’s productivity at zero cost, ultimately increasing its profits.
Let’s look at some ways a line manager can inspire their team.
Clarity is essential in all areas of business.
Staff are likely to be much more motivated if they understand precisely what the company is trying to achieve, and how they can help meet those expectations. See this study for more details.
By setting clear targets with measurable progress, staff can see the impact of their performance. This helps them to engage with the project and gives a sense of satisfaction upon completion.
When you provide staff with constructive feedback, you show that you want to help them succeed and will invest time to help them do so.
Whether you explain how they can improve or praise them for a job well done, offering your team members constructive feedback is an excellent way to motivate them.
If a team member can see that you are invested in their performance and want to help them succeed, they are much more likely to work hard to repay your faith.
Some personalities are motivated by the feeling of achievement after reaching a target.
The prospect of bonuses and staff days out can be an excellent way of driving your team towards success.
It can also be a great way to increase morale and build a sense of camaraderie as everyone works towards a common goal.
Of course, rewards don’t always have to be material.
Praise for a job well done is an excellent way of recognising good performance.
If one of your team members reaches a target, make sure that they feel appreciated by acknowledging their achievement, ideally publicly in front of your whole team.
People tend to be more motivated if they can see that you care about them.
One way of showing this is taking an active interest in their personal development.
Offering guidance on career advancement, sending them on training courses and setting SMART goals can provide motivation.
A team that works well together will be more motivated to achieve their mutual goals.
Encouraging your staff to collaborate will make them feel more appreciated and more invested in the company’s success.
If team members get on well, it makes for a happier office – leading to higher productivity.
Occasional social events can help team members to bond and enjoy each others company more.
As a manager, you set the standard for your team.
Ensure that you lead from the front and show that you’re motivated and excited to be at work – smile, be positive and proactive.
Your approach will rub off on your team members.
Good working relationships rely on trust.
If a team member doesn’t trust you, they won’t want to work for you.
Developing trust takes time but pays huge dividends.
The 80:20 of building trust is – do what you say and say what you do – but if you’d like to learn more see our article: Ways To Build Trust In A Virtual Team.
Motivating your team remotely requires a slightly different approach.
The lack of in-person interaction makes communication and team bonding more difficult.
Problems you might encounter include:
Team members may struggle with IT problems that lead to reduced productivity and inevitable frustration.
Keep these issues to a minimum by making technical requirements as simple as possible and ensuring your IT department is ready to deal with problems as they arise.
Also, by being proactive and making sure that they are correctly set up, you show that you care about them and their work environment.
Communicating remotely can be problematic.
Tone can easily be misconstrued in emails and cause misunderstandings.
Encourage people to use video conferencing software to maximise the sense of being a team, but make allowances where possible for each staff member’s preferred method of communication.
A lot of teams are feeling burned out currently.
The basics of motivating a team don’t change because of this.
However, there are a few additional steps that you should consider.
Working from home makes it difficult to separate your working life from your private life.
Encourage your team to set boundaries.
If they can’t set physical boundaries by confining their work to a specific room, they should start and finish at set times, take regular breaks and completely switch off from work outside of working hours.
Allowing staff to structure their working hours (within reason) around their other priorities and passions can benefit both the employee and the business.
If a team member feels like their employer cares about them and supports them, they will be happier, more motivated and more productive.
A good line manager should encourage staff to focus on their well-being to reduce the level of burnout in their team over time.
Although this will lead to a long-term dip in productivity, it will pay back many times over in reduced absence and staff turnover in the medium term.
The best way to do this will vary from individual to individual.
It could be anything from setting up virtual mindfulness classes to advising them to take an hour off to go for a run.
Let’s look at a couple of behaviours that are guaranteed to kill your team’s motivation.
Taking an interest in how your team are doing is essential, but don’t overdo it.
Constantly interfering with an employee’s work comes across as not trusting them to do their work correctly, adding to their stress.
For more details, see: A Complete Guide To Micromanagement
Don’t assume that all employees are motivated in the same way.
While financial bonuses or other perks drive some people, others are energised by the satisfaction of achieving a set goal.
Offering financial rewards to someone driven by reaching goals and vice versa can reduce their motivation rather than increase it.
Motivation is vital to the performance of your team.
As a line manager, you should do everything within your power to foster an environment where people are inspired to give their best every day.
If your team feel trusted, respected and valued, they are much more likely to achieve great results.
Using the tips we have discussed above will keep your team engaged and happy, and you should see the benefits in no time.
The ability to influence others is useful not only for communication but also for boosting your career.
Understanding the attitude and position of the people you are dealing with is the first step in influencing them.
The better you know your audience, the better you will be able to connect with them.
We discussed in previous articles learning how to influence hostile and neutral audiences. Now it is time to learn about the positive audience.
A positive audience is an audience who already agrees with you. They know you and are already supportive of your ideas.
This article talks about taking advantage of having a positive, friendly audience and enhancing your relationship with the help of a few techniques.
Interacting with a positive audience can seem easy since they already agree with you. This is not completely true, as you could still make some mistakes and not fully reap the benefits of a friendly group.
You still need your positive audience to become engaged with you and excited about what you have to say.
Here are some useful ways to influence a positive audience:
Your positive audience will already agree with you, but you can still strengthen your bond by confirming this agreement.
Focus on the things you have in common and remind your audience of your similarities. This will get them to be even more attentive to what you have to say.
Specify these points clearly and ask for assurance from your audience. Demonstrate to them that you are working towards the same goal.
Since your audience agrees with you, there is not much use in trying to win them over. They are already on your side.
Instead, you should try to motivate them and enforce their emotional bond with you.
The following techniques are effective when trying to motivate your positive audience:
The best way to keep an audience engaged is to get them to take action, and this is also true for a positive audience.
This should be easy since you’ve already established trust and are confident your audience will collaborate with you.
First, you need to define the type of action you need them to take. Your audience could:
It’s best to choose your action before you start interacting with your audience and not just leave it to chance.
Awkward pauses and disorganized behaviour are unprofessional.
Your positive audience already agrees with you, but still, they need to know that they acted on your influence.
This establishes you as a leader – people agree with you not only for your charisma but because you know what you’re talking about.
Let’s assume the solution you’re proposing is a new rating system for performance. Your colleagues already hate the old system and support having a new one.
Your job is to convince them to accept your specific system.
For this, you should explain the reasons behind choosing this product. Your positive audience may be easy to win over, but they will admire you for your analytical mind and be open to your suggestions.
In a TEDx talk by Simon Sinek, a leadership expert and the author of “Start with Why” and “Leaders Eat Last,” he emphasises the importance of having a deep connection with your topic.
Know the problem you are offering a solution to, and trust will follow.
All of us need praise and acceptance, and there can never be enough of it.
A simple thank you can change someone’s day for the better, and a little praise can go a very long way.
If you make your request to your audience in a manner that flatters them, they will be more inclined to agree with you and move to action.
Praise has its charm because it makes your audience feel more valued. As Benjamin Disraeli once said, “Talk to a man about himself, and he will listen for hours.”
A positive audience will be more inclined to accept your praise and appreciate it because they know you. Your positive relationship makes this praise more genuine and, as a result, more effective.
Even if you’re facing a positive audience, there are still mistakes you could make that could potentially turn a positive audience into a neutral or even a hostile one.
It’s still your job to excite and instil action. Learn to avoid these three mistakes, and your interaction will maintain its positive vibe:
One of the common mistakes when dealing with a positive audience is ignoring or forgetting that there is another side to the story. Failing to mention disadvantages or arguments that aren’t in favour of your solution is not going to keep your positive audience convinced for too long.
You may believe that since your audience already agrees with your side of the story, there is no need to mention the other side. This is not true.
You have to prepare your audience for attacks by introducing them to other arguments. Make them aware of all the sides of the argument. This will make them able to defend your point of view once they encounter objections from others.
Being prepared is key in any situation, and interacting with a positive audience is no exception. It’s easy to skip preparation when you trust that your audience already agrees with you.
But no matter how much confidence you have in your audience, you have to be well equipped to handle any questions.
Set aside time before your interaction with your audience to gather data and organise your ideas. Having an audience that likes you is no guarantee when you are not prepared.
When dealing with any type of audience, the end result should be something actionable, whether that’s a decision, preparing for a project or getting straight to work.
No one likes to waste their time on meetings that don’t provide an end result.
Even if your audience likes being around you, they still have to know what to do next.
Every interaction should have a goal, and you could even specify this goal at the beginning of a meeting. This will encourage your audience and get them on board.
Having a positive audience can be a relief. Unlike hostile and neutral audiences, you already have a common ground to build upon.
Still, you shouldn’t rely only on the fact that they like you.
Every relationship is based on an exchange, and since your positive audience will provide you with the support you need, it’s your job to lead the discussion in the direction you want it to go and inspire your positive audience to take the right kind of action.
By learning the techniques we have discussed, you will influence your positive audience and foster your connection with them.
Imposter syndrome (“IS”), also known as imposter phenomenon (or impostor phenomenon), describes individuals who can not acknowledge their successes as being a result of their hard work and abilities.
People with imposter syndrome attribute their successes to luck or other external circumstances and feel that they have fooled everyone else.
They feel like a fraud, or imposter, and live in fear of being found out.
Imposter syndrome was first discovered by Suzanne Imes and Pauline Rose Clance in the 1970s (source) when they noticed its prevalence in high achieving women.
Subsequent studies have shown that men and women suffer more or less equally.
While imposter syndrome is most widely understood in the context of work, especially in people who are learning how to carry out a management position, but it is possible to suffer imposter syndrome in all areas of life, for example, within a romantic relationship.
Come along to one of our various Line Manager courses to learn more.
Imposter syndrome is not a medically recognised condition.
However, it can lead to, or exacerbate, medical health conditions like anxiety, stress and depression.
Research varies widely on the exact proportion of the population that will suffer from imposter syndrome.
Most studies show that more than 50% of the population will suffer from it at some point in their lives, but there is little agreement on the exact figure.
A recent review of the research into imposter syndrome found that studies have shown that between 9% and 82% of the population suffer from imposter syndrome!
Sufferers of imposter syndrome are very critical of themselves and have feelings of inadequacy.
They are unable to objectively assess their own level of competence as their views are clouded by feeling like a fraud, and their persistent fear of failure.
Sufferers of imposter syndrome are more likely to suffer from burn out and that it can reduce job performance.
From a career perspective, sufferers of imposter syndrome will often fail to advocate for themselves or put themselves forward for promotions or positions that would develop their experience, leading to slower progression in their career.
A single cause of imposter syndrome has not been discovered.
It seems most likely that it is caused by a combination of your personality, your family and your work circumstances.
Anecdotally, psychologists find that people who are perfectionists or who suffer from anxiety disorders are much more likely to experience imposter syndrome.
The difference between self-doubt and imposter syndrome is how often and how severely feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt are felt.
It is normal to suffer from occasional bouts of self-doubt, especially in new or challenging situations.
Imposter syndrome is far more persistent. It is the continuing feelings of not being good enough that damage people’s mental health and self-confidence.
If you’re not sure if you’ve got imposter syndrome or not, let’s look at some of the typical ways that it manifests itself.
If you are a perfectionist, you may well be suffering from imposter syndrome.
Your drive to get things exactly right is probably driven by self-doubt and being overly critical of yourself.
People who consistently overwork often do so because they don’t believe that they deserve their position or fear that they will be ‘found out’, the exact same feelings that imposter syndrome generates.
Working in teams is difficult for people who experience imposter syndrome, as they see asking for help as a negative.
They fear that doing so will mean that others will think that they can’t do their job as opposed to being a normal part of life.
If you struggle to delegate, this can also be a sign of potential imposter syndrome.
The two typical reasons people struggle to delegate are:
Both of these point to perfectionism or lack of confidence.
Imposter syndrome suffers don’t ever believe that their work is good enough.
If you struggle to accept praise and if people compliment you either minimise or brush off the praise that is a strong signal you may have imposter syndrome.
Finally, if you always feel that it looks like everyone else finds things so much easier, then that is a sign of possible imposter syndrome.
Logically we all know that everyone has struggles and that things are probably more chaotic for them than they look from the outside but if you get this feeling frequently this may be a sign that you need to be careful.
If you spot the traits above frequently in your thinking, then you may well be suffering imposter syndrome.
Luckily, there are lots of effective ways to deal with it:
Typically, IS suffers don’t speak to anyone else about it, by doing this you are already breaking the mould.
The mere act of speaking to someone will help greatly.
If you don’t know what the goal is, it is easy to fool yourself that you haven’t reached it.
If you have clear goals you have an objective standard for success.
If you have success, be sure to reward yourself and celebrate.
This helps break the habit of seeking external validation to try to alleviate your feeling like a fraud and then dismissing the validation.
The most important conversation is the one you have with yourself!
Make a habit of reviewing your thoughts when you feel your IS getting worse and then changing the script.
If you do this repeatedly, it will help to change the way you think.
Nobody likes failing, but you need to learn to accept that it’s part of life and to take the lessons from it and then move on.
Ruminating on problems and mistakes only makes things worse.
Focus on the positive and fighting your perfectionist streak.
By reminding yourself about the things that are going well, you’ll balance up how you view things.
Let’s bring Imposter Syndrome out of the shadows and deal with it.
Doubting yourself is a natural part of growing and developing.
That doesn’t mean it’s easy or pleasant, but by speaking about it and asking for help, it can be made so much less difficult.
Next time you catch yourself doubting yourself, make sure that you speak to someone about it.
What is the difference between a frustrated employee and an employee who is so unhappy that they actually start looking for a new job?
To find out more we conducted new, original research to look at what the key drivers of employees actually starting to look for a new job are.
We polled 500 employees across a wide variety of industries to understand:
Our survey gave one overwhelming answer – a lack of control.
This is part of a series of polls we have carried out. The other ones can be found as follows:
As part of our research, we asked employees how often they left work feeling that things were under control.
The results are contained in the graphs below.
The link between how often an employee feels that their work is under control and how likely they are to be looking for a new job is direct.
The correlation between the two figures is over 90% for this graph.
By contrast, while happy employees do feel that their work is out of control, they don’t do so so often.
It would appear that when employees feel out of control for the majority of the time (3 days per week or more) then the stress that that generates will drive them to look for a new job.
Our finding is a piece of empirical evidence of a link between control and the intention of leaving a job.
Does this match with other findings?
The short answer is yes as there is strong research that links feelings of control with lower stress and higher resilience.
There is also well-established research linking increased stress levels with an increased intention to quit a job.
In the sections below we look further at the individual pieces of this chain.
People who have an internal locus of control. feel that they have agency and a degree of control over events in their life suffer less stress and anxiety than people with an external locus of control.
The difference in their way of perceiving events leads to different ways of reacting to events.
People experiencing the same challenging set of circumstances can deal with them pro-actively, seeing them as a chance to grow and develop, or passively, as another example of life being unfair. Some people view failure as a learning experience and part of life. Others view it as a catastrophe that they won’t be able to recover from.
Guess which one finds failure more stressful?!!
The link between stress and resilience is also very well established.
People who find life’s challenges less stressful are more resilient.
It doesn’t matter whether they naturally have a positive outlook or they use techniques to cultivate a positive mindset when things are hard, the result it the same. They are able to keep going when things are tough and find a way through their difficulties.
All jobs have their ups and downs. It is how people deal with them that is crucial.
People who find the downs very stressful are more likely to struggle psychologically and also far more likely to quit for obvious reasons.
Conversely, people who show good resilience can find ways to thrive despite the challenges they are facing are far less likely to quit conversely.
Although intuitively it makes sense that employees who consistently feel out of control are more likely to leave it is interesting to see how strong the correlation is.
Obviously, this link merits further work as this was a relatively small study.
Image Credit: Agni B
One of the biggest disadvantages of remote teams is that building trust between team members is tough.
In this article, we look at ways to build trust in remote teams.
As with physical teams, it just requires some thought and planning.
We look at:
Trust is the belief that someone else will interpret and approach every action honestly and with sincerity.
If you trust someone you are confident that they will behave positively and that an interaction will be mutually beneficial.
Without trust in a business, there is nothing but process, hierarchy and extra expenses.
Trust is at the core of all good relationships, whether they are at work or at home, and fundamental to a good organisational culture.
Trust impacts all aspects of relationships.
Given how crucial relationships are to team performance, if follows trust can have a material impact on team performance.
This is backed up by research which shows that increased intrateam trust does improve performance.
Interestingly this work also found that the more interdependent a team is, the more trust is important. This makes sense as the more you depend on others to get your work done, the more benefits you will get from a high trust environment.
The benefits of a high trust environment at work include:
Trust is one of the biggest factors in workplace collaboration.
This is the mechanism that means that improving trust in a team leads to better performance.
As the benefits of collaboration in the workplace are very widely known and understood.
When people share ideas and work together, they make better decisions and get to focus on the tasks that they are best suited to.
High trust workplaces are reasonably easy to spot.
A high trust environment will manifest itself in some or all of the following:
Team members don’t fear the judgement of their peers. This means that employees are far more likely to get the help and co-operation they need to do their best work, as they don’t have to worry about ridicule.
Team members exchange ideas and opinions openly working to find the best solution to problems. They aren’t concerned about others trying to claim credit for their good ideas, or dismissing their bad ideas.
Team members are committed to working with each other, regardless of their opinion about a decision. Even if they disagree with a decision that has been taken, once it has been taken they will contribute towards the shared goal in the same way that they would if they agreed with the decision.
Team members will hold each other to account, as they know that they can do so without bad feelings. A trusting team will know that others are treating them fairly and so find criticism far easier to accept.
Not all of these ways to build trust will apply to all workplaces.
As you look at the list below you will need to think about which methods would apply best to the virtual team that you manage.
You might know your team members’ names, but do you really know who you’re working with?
The most effective way to develop trust between remote employees is to ensure everyone knows the other team members properly. This means knowing more than their names.
If time allows, encourage your team to spend the first few minutes of a meeting chatting and breaking the ice. This will mean that they get to know more about each other and connect more closely.
If you are their manager you can model the behaviour you would like to see by asking people about their day, family, pets or hobbies.
The more people connect with each other, the more they are likely to trust each other.
Another great team building activity for remote teams is having a happy hour meeting.
These encourage them to come together as colleagues and talk about anything but work. It is best if participation is encouraged rather than mandatory.
When everyone is working remotely from their homes, it is easy for people to become confused about their objectives and goals.
This is especially true when there is a lack of clear goals.
When there are face-to-face interactions these misunderstandings are easily picked up and corrected.
When a team is virtual these misunderstandings are much less likely to be spotted and can remain uncorrected until they become problematic.
The best way to avoid confusion is
– Regularly clarify the team’s primary objectives, priorities, and milestones;
– Specify a role for each team member and tell them how they can add value to the outcome;
– Use modern digital technology and tools to ensure everyone stays updated;
– Encourage people to ask questions when they are doubtful. It will ensure they are not working based on their assumptions.
One of the major challenges of remote work is monitoring progress and outcomes.
You don’t have the option to ask for quick updates face-to-face in the same way. That’s why you need a system in place that ensures every team member is working effectively.
Without this, lack of productivity and derailed projects will become a problem.
Creating a standard set of rules and procedures is a well-established way to deal with this.
– Create mandatory rules and standard operating procedures. Make sure that everyone is held accountable to them.
– Explain what you expect from each member. Tell them about their responsibilities and deadlines.
– Use digital tools to your benefit. Rely on shared documents, calendars, project management apps, and more to ensure consistency.
– Provide feedback during the process. Adapt according to the progress and outcomes.
Celebrations of milestones and successes bring people together and provide positive feedback.
Celebrations are tricky when people are working from home. Some managers feel that there is no point but this is exactly the time when extra efforts should be made.
They offer a reason to bring team members to focus on something positive which is a really good way to build trust in a group as they can see what they have achieved together.
Many companies struggle with building trust and collaboration because they are not democratic. When people don’t feel that their ideas are listed to they stop contributing them.
Managers need to give their team members a genuinely open forum and allow their team to have debate ideas and solutions openly and honestly.
The isolated nature of the virtual workplace exacerbates this issue making it even more important.
The sense of being a part of something bigger than themselves motivates people to work harder. This way, they are more likely to work as a team and achieve the company’s goals.
It is natural for people to reciprocate behaviours.
If you show trust in your team they are much more likely to show trust to your and others on the team.
This means that if you want to foster trust in a group the best place to start is by showing them trust.
There are many benefits to having rules and SOPs in place as discussed above.
However, when people are working from home they don’t have the same ability to compartmentalise their home and work lives that they would in a physical office.
This means they might not be able to exactly meet all of the requirements.
If you avoid getting too hung up on small things and focus on whether they are hitting their milestones you are showing that you trust them to successfully manage small issues.
Team managers often make a multitude of mistakes while attempting to build trust and collaboration in virtual teams. A few of the common ones include the following:
Most of the managers believe that their team members should earn their trust over time.
They feel that employees should only gain the organisation’s trust after achieving their milestones within the allocated budget and deadline.
Requiring team members to prove themselves often leads to demotivation and a sense of mutual distrust.
When you don’t trust your team members, they don’t trust you back, resulting in a less efficient work environment.
That’s why it is important for the managers to give and communicate their trust right away. This can take multiple forms such as:
If you commit to something, make sure that you follow through.
Similarly, try not to change priorities at short notice unless there is a very clear reason to do so, and if you do so make sure that you communicate those reasons to all key team members.
A big part of trust is consistency.
It is difficult for people to assume anything about your intentions if you are not consistent, and you don’t keep your word.
In turn, a big part of being consistent is being transparent. If your team members understand why things are being decided then they won’t feel that things are contradictory or unpredictable even when things are changing rapidly.
You cannot promise a bonus to your team members if they can ensure early delivery of the project and then back out.
Trust is built over time. It is a process that takes time.
Trying to force the pace is counterproductive. People don’t like being pushed
Another mistake that leaders often make is they try to force trust in their team. Instead of attempting to build and nurture it gradually through positive feedback, they attempt to force it.
When you try to force a situation on your employees, you lose credibility and integrity, which can be potentially disastrous for your team. Instead of trying to force people to like you and each other, give them the opportunity to do that themselves.
If you are leading a virtual team, your role as a leader is crucial to building trust and collaboration.
Building a trusting and collaborative culture in your team will also be one of the biggest contributors to productivity and creativity.
The great thing is that if you get it right not only will your team be more efficient but you’ll have more fun leading them.
If a micromanager has ever managed you, you know how demotivating it is.
In this article, we take an in-depth look at micromanagement.
The next article in this series will look at: What To Do If Your Manager Is A Micromanager.
Micromanagement describes a management style that involves excessive supervision and over-attentiveness to the minor details of a team member’s work and methods.
Micromanagers try to control all aspects of an assigned task rather than delegating tasks and trusting in the ability of their team members to carry them out.
Usually, micromanagement is a way for the team leader to manage their feelings of lack of control.
Micromanagers require excessive reporting on a task to maintain a sense of control and will go to extreme lengths to involve themselves in all aspects of a job assigned to a subordinate, even when it is one the subordinate has completed successfully before.
While this might be fulfilling to the micromanager, it stifles employee creativity, wastes time (spent on monitoring irrelevant details) and creates a hostile work environment.
Signs that your manager is a micromanager include:
If your manager is concerned about the processes you carry out to complete a task or project and not the outcome, they are probably a micromanager. Micromanagers focus less on results and more on making sure you are doing things their way. They check every process of a task, leaving no room for creativity.
Micromanagers tend not to be good at acting on feedback. If your manager is constantly ignoring your feedback, then they may be a micromanager. Micromanagers tend to see people more as tools to carry out a task in the way required and miss out on the experience that team members can offer them by listening to them carefully.
Being detail-oriented is a desirable trait, but in a manager, this can become suffocating if they can’t look at things with the right level of detail. Managers and leaders should focus on the big picture and leave their team members to deal with the details.
Micromanagers hate decisions being made without them. Their need for control makes delegated decision-making very difficult for them. So someone who struggles a lot with delegated decision making is likely to be a micromanager.
At heart, micromanagers don’t like delegating work. Mistakes and problems give them the excuse that they’re looking for to take back work. After all, this is what they were worried about in the first place.
Micromanagement isn’t a black and white thing. We all sit on a spectrum and it only becomes an issue when this trait is excessive and out of control.
Let’s look at a practical (and terrible) example of micromanagement.
Your boss asks you to collaborate with the company accountant and collate a list of all team members above a certain age and earning below a certain amount.
It’s a simple task that is well within your capabilities, and so you would hope to be left to get on with it.
A micromanager might well then do any of the following:
The manager’s discomfort with delegating means they come up with excuses to remain involved in the project.
A recent study by Accountemps shows that as many as 59% of people have been managed by a micromanager at some point in their career.
Of the people who reported working for a micromanager, 68% said it had decreased their morale, and 55% claimed it had hurt their productivity.
A different study found that 36% of employees have changed jobs as a result of a micromanager.
Micromanagers seldom see themselves that way. They believe that they are good, detail-oriented managers.
Micromanagement is a combination of nature and part nurture.
People most inclined to be micromanagers show the following fear-based characteristics.
These character traits can be exacerbated when someone feels insecure, for example, when they are new to a supervisory position or if they have been told that their team’s performance is poor.
Different organisations have different cultures and business hierarchies. Businesses whose leadership emphasises control and detail-orientation or that are highly pressured will encourage micromanagement.
Some people will always micromanage no matter where they work.
Others who may tend towards it less strongly will be more heavily influenced by their employer’s culture. Someone who might not ordinarily micromanage can be turned into a micromanager by their organisation’s culture.
Studies show that autonomy is one of the biggest drivers of employee engagement.
Working for a micromanager is the opposite of having autonomy.
Micromanagers bring a rapid drop in employee engagement and an increase in the problems that that brings.
Micromanagement can get good results in the short term, but it is very damaging in the longer term.
Over time employee engagement and productivity fall, and employee turnover increases more than reversing the short-term productivity boost achieved initially.
Micromanagement impacts teams across the board. Let’s look at some of the specific ways that it can impact people.
1. Reduced Productivity:
The time a manager spends nitpicking is time that they and their team member aren’t spending on productive work.
2. Reduced Teamwork:
Micromanagement forces employees to work with their manager individually instead of working together as a team.
3. Poor Morale:
Micromanaged teams are not happy or motivated teams. A boss that is never satisfied and tends to focus on the negative is not a receipe for a happy team.
4. Loss Of Ownership:
Being told exactly how to do something and kept rigidly to that plan inevitably leads people to lose a feeling of ownership of their work. After all, if you’re told exactly how to do something, and it goes wrong, it’s not your fault. Equally, if it goes well, you can’t really celebrate in the same way as what you did wasn’t your idea.
5. Employee Absence:
The irritations and frustrations of working for a micromanager tend to mount up over time. They lead to reduced employee engagement and increased employee absences, as people feel less enthusiastic about going to work. In extreme cases, the mental health of team members can be impacted. Studies have shown a link between depression and micromanaging leaders.
6. Limiting employee growth:
One of the principal ways that growth occurs, personally and professionally, is by making mistakes. A micromanaging boss has no room for errors. Which means the employees can’t grow.
7. High employee turnover rate:
All the above effects eventually lead to employees leaving the company after only a short period due to the hostile work atmosphere.
Micromanagement is only ever appropriate temporarily when a project is going wrong.
At this point, it is appropriate for a manager to involve themselves more deeply in the project. This will allow them to analyse where it has gone wrong and put the appropriate fixes in place. However, at this point, they should then step back and leave the team member to get on with it.
Ideally, this analysis will be done collaboratively with the person carrying out the work so that they still feel a sense of ownership and agency.
Some people believe that it is appropriate to micromanage when a very particular outcome is required.
If this is the case, then the manager needs to be sure that their team understands this clearly at the outset. They need to communicate their expectations and requirements very clearly about what success looks like. It is also appropriate for them to request precise updates to ensure that the requirements will be met.
Requiring a very particular outcome isn’t a reason to become a micromanager.
We are all on a spectrum with micromanagement.
No one is immune from it.
So keep an eye out for it in yourself as you develop your management skills.
Being aware of you strengths and weaknesses is key to becoming an effective Line Manager.