How to combat imposter syndrome when WFH

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  • Yes, it's for real and, with many of us working from home, imposter syndrome is on the rise. Here's how to deal with it

    Imposter syndrome is defined as a persistent inability to believe that your successes are down to your own abilities. Sounds like you? You’re not alone. One recent survey found a whopping 90% of women in the UK suffer from this, yet only 25% are actually aware of it.

    Thanks to the pandemic working from home is the new norm. But in a remote and distributed work environment – feelings of imposter syndrome are even more challenging to tackle. Apparently 74% of companies are planning on permanently shifting to remote and distributed work in the future, so  organisations need to ensure they are creating an empowering environment for female employees in this remote world.

    As a champion of diversity and female empowerment in the workplace, Asana‘s Terri Burden reveals how remote work can act as a trigger for impostor syndrome, and shares five action points to take on overcoming this feeling.

    1. Get clear on expectations

    It’s more important than ever to perfect communications between distanced team members. For individuals suffering from imposter syndrome this is particularly challenging, as you’re more likely to avoid asking for help.

    To avoid this, you need to get clear on what you need to achieve. But this responsibility not only lies with you, but with your company. According to an Asana survey, only 16% of employees say their company is ‘very effective’ at setting and communicating company-wide goals. This is an issue, as it causes confusion about priorities, a lack of motivation, and even a lack of alignment within teams. From daily to annual targets to those outlined for yourself, your team and your organization – setting goals can provide the clarity you need and ensures you stay focused on the tasks that matter.

    2. Don’t compare yourself to others 

    Focusing on developing your individual strength will be most beneficial for your career progression and your mental health. One person’s strength is another person’s weakness, and accepting that your skill lies elsewhere means you can focus on getting ahead in an area that you excel.

    Nonetheless, be sure to seek opportunities outside of your comfort zone. For example, join in with a brainstorm outside of your usual remit. This is a great opportunity to listen in and learn from others, whilst providing value to that group by offering an outsider’s perspective.

    imposter syndrome

    Terri Burden, Customer Success Manager at Asana

    3. Establish how you want to receive feedback

    In the absence of facial cues and non-verbal means of communication, it’s often easy to mistake a simple comment for a harsh critique. To make sure you don’t misinterpret a message over email or otherwise, you need to take the initiative to ask for a quick chat via phone or video call.

    On the call, you can gain greater clarity on what the other person meant and more easily verbalise your response. This is also a great opportunity to establish ground rules. While not always possible due to time constraints, you could inform your colleague/ boss that verbal communication is preferred when receiving feedback. This’ll provide you with greater ease of mind and demonstrates your desire to learn and develop.

    4. Build confidence for video calls

    If you’re struggling with transitioning to video conferencing, you’re not alone. But this form of communication is here to stay. So take some extra steps ahead of the call to make yourself more comfortable. This can be as simple as writing a little script of items you wish to cover or contribute. Or even reach out to a teammate beforehand to check a point you’d like to make. Having this clarity ahead of the video call can make it easier to make your voice be heard.

    5, Finally, remember you’re human

    As cliche as it sounds, we are all human and mistakes are inevitable. So don’t be afraid to make an error, just be sure to turn it into a learning experience. Applying this insight to your future work can not only be beneficial to yourself, but to your teammates and junior colleagues.

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