HR & Management

How imposter syndrome impacts productivity

5 min read

14 September 2018

Impostor syndrome affects the way we feel around people at work. Here we unveil what it does to the day-to-day office routine and how to live with it.

Most of us have experienced imposter syndrome, and there is nothing wrong with it. Even Einstein had it and he still worked on pretty important stuff. But there must be a way to improve our individual productivity levels despite all odds.

1. Small wins to achieve big goals

Lack of self-confidence and fear of failure slow down our work and often don’t allow us to get down to something. First, you can’t begin the work, because nothing will come out of it, then you feel you are a cheat because nothing important gets done and the loop of despair closes.

How to break the vicious circle? The best thing to do is to split major goals into tiny bits and applaud to yourself after each step is completed. This will bring gradual satisfaction.

Psychologists believe that self-validation is the only effective remedy for the impostor syndrome. Learn to think of small things as achievements and praise yourself every time they happen – you might end up discovering your true value at work.

After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day, many great projects seem impossible at first and most professionals started as amateurs.

2. It’s not all entirely about you

Feeling anxious and uneasy with staff, because they will inevitably smoke you out, leads to major misunderstanding and inconsistencies.

You are trying to figure everything out yourself. You handle tasks without asking for advice and sometimes not even discussing them at all, missing out on some important questions that should be asked. Hence the work is not done well, and you sabotage yourself.

To avoid that, keep in mind that it’s not all entirely about you. The impostor feelings may reduce individual productivity, but more dangerously they might disrupt business and employee performance.

Everyone is involved as they may have to deal with the consequences of your self-doubt. You should be aware of that.

If you stop being so self-focused and think more of the other people in your boat, you might end up comparing yourself with peers and exchanging feedback on your accomplishments and failures.

That will not leave room for impostor style ambivalence. Besides when you talk to employees it may turn out that they have feelings similar to yours, which may make you feel better.

3. Aim at “OK” from time to time

Perfectionism frequently accompanies the impostor syndrome. It is likely you have it if you do everything very slowly and thoroughly, and then look back and redo your work. Among other things (like micromanagement and trouble with delegating) this speaks for ineffective allocation of time.

Perfection is great, but it may be working against you. So, before getting to something, make it clear to yourself what will be “ideal” and what is “acceptable”. Then identify what result is expected from you at each particular step.

Assess your time and objectives realistically, ask for help if necessary. Again, your work doesn’t have to be always perfect, aim at “OK” from time to time.

This will provide better time-management and will facilitate a productive approach to work, even if you still think of yourself as of a charlatan. Above all, when you share your tentative results, the responsibility will no longer be fully on you, you’ll have an expert feedback to rely on.

To conclude, we must admit that it is low productivity level that makes things worse. Our apprehension around professional inaptitude is amplified by it.

That’s why this problem should be fixed first. If you boost your productivity, your personal evaluation will improve, and in the end of the day your impostor syndrome may sink into oblivion.

Marina Pilipenko is the marketing manager at actiTIME, the software company, providing a time-tracking solution to companies all over the world. She is passionate about productivity and work-life balance and loves giving tips on how to achieve more so follow her on Twitter.