Overcoming Imposter Syndrome in the Workplace

70% of people will experience imposter syndrome – the gut-wrenching feeling of self-doubt and belief that they are not as competent as others believe them to be despite their experience, education, and accomplishments. They feel like a fraud and await the moment they are “caught” or found out. Even when others praise their talents, they still cannot shake their feelings and write off achievements as “dumb luck.”

People will pressure themselves to work harder and strive for perfection to avoid getting caught as an imposter. What if, instead of coping with imposter syndrome, people learned how to put an end to it?

Take the first step in ending imposter syndrome (IS) in the workplace by understanding the types of IS and implementing strategies to help others overcome the phenomenon.

Five types of imposter syndrome

IS is not “one size fits all”—it can appear in several interconnected ways. The five most common types are:

  1. The perfectionist: Perfectionists are never satisfied. They always believe they can be better and do better. Since perfection isn’t always realistic, they start fixating on their mistakes rather than their strengths. Even minor errors reinforce their belief that they’re putting on a facade.
  2. The superhero: These people link competence to success and commonly feel inadequate. So, what do they do? Push themselves to the limit. All the hard work and effort still do not resolve their feelings of “imposterism.”
  3. The expert: Experts always underestimate their expertise. Since they are never satisfied with their level of intelligence, they want to learn everything there is to know on a topic. These people may devote more time to a task because they spent too much time on their quest to “know it all.”
  4. The natural genius: These individuals pick up new skills with little effort and believe they should understand new information and processes right away. Their belief that competency equates to picking things up naturally makes them feel like a fraud when they face an obstacle.
  5. The soloist: These people are very individualistic. Their self-worth stems from productivity, and they tend to see asking for help as a sign of weakness. In their eyes, if they can’t succeed solo, they’re unworthy. If they accept help, they’re showing others they’re phony or inadequate.

 Do any of these sound like you or someone you know?

Overcome imposter syndrome head-on

Both leaders and team members can experience imposter syndrome and the negative feelings that impact their work and environment. Fortunately, you can implement strategies to help overcome IS.

Share your feelings

Talking to someone about your distress can help you get outside context on the situation. Maybe you’ll find someone you can overcome IS with as you share strategies and challenges you encounter.

Build connections

Avoid the urge to do everything solo. Turn to your peers to create a network of mutual support, and you’ll find your network can offer guidance, validate your strengths, and encourage your growth efforts.

Assess your abilities

Make a realistic assessment of your abilities in social and performance situations. Write down your accomplishments and skills, then compare that with your self-assessment (what you think about yourself). You’ll find that the realistic assessment of yourself is the one that shines!

Challenge your doubts

Ask yourself, “Are my thoughts rational?” Does it make sense to believe that you are a fraud, given everything you know is true about yourself? When IS feelings emerge, consider whether the facts support your beliefs.

Avoid a “comparison competition”

Whenever you compare yourself to others in social situations, it can turn into a “comparison competition” where you will find issues that fuel feelings of inadequacy. Everyone has unique abilities. You are where you are because someone recognized your talents and your potential.

Be a mentor and help others

It’s hard to encourage someone to see their unique talent, achievement, and creativity when it doesn’t align with their self-perceptions. Here are several strategies for mentorship that can help:

  • Normalize imposter feelings: If someone confesses feelings of IS, welcome them to the club! Feeling like a fraud at times is normal. Remind them it’s okay to say “I don’t know” and ask for help.
  • Be relatable: Go a step further and share your imposter stories (if you have them). It goes a long way for a mentee to discover that their mentor has also tackled the feelings of IS and pushed through.
  • Positive affirmation goes a long way: Affirm and encourage your employees. The key here is to affirm the individual as a human being by acknowledging their inherent worth and then affirm them as professionals. Persistently call out their achievements and celebrate them.
  • Counteract stereotype threats: Stereotype threats are when a person feels at risk of conforming to negative stereotypes about their race or gender. Marginalization can make people feel like imposters, regardless of how self-assured, smart, and confident they are. These feelings can be mitigated by reminding the mentee that their role is not affected by race or gender and never will be.
  • Give and take credit when deserved: People with IS are more likely to attribute their success to luck or give credit to someone else. You may even notice them downplaying their talent and achievement. If you find someone doing this, give them the recognition they deserve and explain why!

Be who you’re meant to be

If you’re in the 70% of people with IS, remember your accomplishments are not a product of dumb luck or efforts to maintain the “illusion” of your success. Genuinely recognize and acknowledge where you are today, not how you think you got there. That was all you!

Don’t stop your journey there. You can always become an excellent leader and mentor who helps others overcome their IS feelings. With warmth, affirmation, and patience, you can help your team members see themselves through your eyes!


Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by airdone

Power Your Business, Empower Your People

The world of business is changing—and changing quickly. Whether in the form of marketing, sales and prospecting, company culture, or employee satisfaction, new solutions and practices are sprouting up everywhere. Competition has always been at the heart of company culture but keeping up with many moving parts can be a challenge.

So how do you keep your business moving and growing in a constantly changing environment without breaking the bank? You take full advantage of the resources already available to you: your employees.

Your greatest resource, driving force, and differentiator—each of your employees, have their own set of experiences and tools they bring to the table. By developing a company culture that enables employees to expand to their fullest potential, the pool of resources you have access to grows larger and more readily available. And in doing so, you invest in the future of your employees, enabling them to grow farther in their careers while building strong, mutually beneficial relationships.

So how do you design a company that can tap into the greatest potential of their employees, and thus the company itself?

Here’s where to start:

1. Fail with grace

Creating an environment where failure isn’t discouraged, but celebrated, is key to making people feel comfortable trying new things. Failure is a symptom of having tried something, which is in itself a success. Teach your employees not to fear retaliation for trying something new. Instead, celebrate their initiative and use it as an opportunity to learn how to do better next time.

The more people feel free to try out new things without negative repercussions, the more willing they will be to give their ideas a shot. And the more opportunity you all have to develop ideas and practices that create wins.

2. Embrace change

Embracing innovation means there will be change. It’s core to the definition of change itself. Consider the many roles of your employees. Have you structured your company to keep people in place or created a more fluid organization that allows for the flexibility and movement of your employees?

When you bring people onto your team, do you talk about how their roles might change, or do you simply give them their handbook and leave them to it?

If you allow your employees to get too comfortable doing the same thing over and over again, they will resist change. It makes sense, right? Change is difficult and takes work. If employees aren’t used to being asked to adjust to new ways of doing things, they’ll get frustrated and push back.

Train your employees to expect change from the get-go. Get them excited about how their roles may develop and evolve and encourage them to think critically about how things might be improved.

That way, you have a team full of people who aren’t afraid to go ahead with new initiatives, technologies, and systems. You’ll also attract employees who are big thinkers and value a rich, ever-evolving office discourse.

Does that sound like the people you want working for you?

3. Lead with purpose

You probably know that company culture comes from the top down. It isn’t enough to expect your employees to come up with new ideas. Leadership also needs to devote time and energy to thinking critically and looking for new solutions and opportunities for growth.

Without the motivation of leadership, the energy and momentum needed for innovation will dwindle. There’s no problem solidifying what you’ve already got—especially if it works. But it’s just as essential to keep your eye on the future. How will your company stand out from the crowd? What can you do to optimize your processes, expand your audience, and grow your business? What big new idea are you bringing to the table?

The long-term outcome

An innovative company can keep up with changing markets and evolving competitors. Investing in practices that cultivate and nurture innovation in your company is investing in your company’s present and future.


People want to be a part of something engaging and are inspired by a company that values a healthy exchange of ideas. You never know what you can accomplish if you design a company with an open mind: flexible, open to new ideas, and poised for growth.



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Photo by langstrup

Recognize Employee Stress—and Help Them Manage It

Stress seems like a way of life, whether it’s positive (preparing to move to a new house), negative (dealing with a chronic illness), or work-related. Eighty percent of Americans deal with some form of work-related stress—and half of those workers say they need help learning to manage it. This affects not only workers but managers too, as 68% of managers reported moderate or high levels of stress.

National Stress Awareness Month, which takes place in April, encourages people to recognize what stress is and how to manage it. A company culture that encourages employees and employers to talk about and manage stress is key to everyone’s wellbeing, but only 17.6% of workers say they have a culture that encourages them to open up and talk about it. 

Weaving stress management into your company culture shouldn’t only be because of National Stress Awareness Month. It should always be a priority to help with employee retention, as well as overall wellness and organizational strength. Here are some ways to include it into your company’s culture and daily routine.

Recognize the signs

Stress can cost U.S. businesses the health and wellbeing of their employees, as well as time and money—$300 billion a year annually, in fact. As an employer, you need to spot and recognize the signs, such as:

  • Decreased productivity and quality of work
  • Work/life imbalance
  • Poor physical and mental health
  • Low morale and motivation
  • Impacted workplace relationships

It’s also important to recognize when employees are putting too much pressure on themselves, whether it’s real or self-imposed. When you recognize the signs and see frazzled, stressed employees, pull them aside and take time to listen to their concerns. You can help them with decreased productivity, for instance, by easing up on deadlines and giving them permission to prioritize projects.

Check in when necessary

Along with recognizing the signs, it’s essential to check in and get as much information as possible about what causes your employees to feel stress at work. Be prepared to also intervene, where necessary, and manage certain stressors—for example, when a project is pulled off track for any reason and you see people start to get stressed, sit down with them and brainstorm how to get it back on track.

Give them time—and space

Stress can’t be completely avoided. But you can ensure your employees have some time and space to step away from work for a bit and destress. In an office space, this can include providing things like:

  • A small room designated as a nap/lounge area
  • Outdoor benches/gardens
  • More extended vacations or PTO
  • Encouraged breaks
  • Strong boundaries around work hours/ hours of availability

Also, whether you’re in an office or offer remote work, consider including No Meeting Days into the schedule. Encourage employees to block off time on their calendars to focus on their tasks and keep from getting bogged down or overwhelmed by many meetings. Giving employees time and space to themselves lets them reset, refocus, and recharge.

Encourage workplace wellness

Exercise and healthy living are some of the best stress-busters out there. Exercise improves mood by releasing happy calming hormones called endorphins and eating healthy helps people feel more energetic and at their best because, as they say, you are what you eat.

If you work on-site, this could mean having office yoga days, walking breaks, and offering healthy snacks in the break room. If your company is remote, this could mean providing employees with benefits like access to health and wellness apps. When employees know you’re looking out for their health and wellbeing, it doesn’t go unnoticed.

Provide advice and opportunities for counseling

Almost half of U.S. workers say they need to learn to manage stress better. Teach your employees how to better manage stress by providing on-site or distance counseling/training or setting time aside for your employees to get together with you or their coworkers to brainstorm stress management techniques. Just providing the option for them to talk prepares your employees for whatever may come their way.

(Don’t) feel the pressure

More and more people are feeling the pressure and experiencing high levels of stress. Helping your employees manage stress in the workplace lets them identify triggers and gives them the right tools to protect their health and keep them calm—no matter when, or where, stress might hit.


Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by stokkete

The Consequences of Ineffective Business Communication

When did communication become a transaction rather than an interaction?

Communication should be a shared understanding between sender and receiver, and over time, some people seem to have lost their way. Instead of creating a mutual understanding to drive desired outcomes, too many people fire off messages regardless of how they may be received.

Also, advanced technology and the shift from in-person to hybrid work environments play a significant part in the disconnect between communication and successful outcomes. Ready for the scary part? U.S. businesses lose $1.2 trillion every year to unsuccessful communication practices!

Recognizing the consequences of ineffective communication and learning effective communication tools and practices helps leaders keep their top talent and ensures their business continues to grow.

The challenges of poor communication

Grammarly surveyed 251 business leaders and 1,001 knowledge workers in the US to find out what is getting in the way of collaboration and productivity.

What was the root problem? Ineffective communication!

The majority of knowledge workers (86%) reported spending half their workweek (20 hours!) experiencing communication issues, including:

  • Not receiving timely responses from others
  • Communicating clearly, so receivers understand the message
  • Understanding messages received
  • Keeping up with the frequency of communication
  • Identifying the proper tone to use in messages
  • Choosing the right platform or tool for communication
  • Difficulty understanding next steps or responsibilities

Business leaders believe that they and their teams spend too much time and energy resolving miscommunications every week. By spending too much time on miscommunications, business leaders shuffle around to manage negative consequences instead of helping their team pave a path forward and work together.

Consequences of ineffective communication

Where does all the lost time go?

It’s spent resolving communication issues, addressing mistakes caused by misunderstandings, and following up on unmet deadlines and deliverables. Activities like these can take up to 19% of your team’s workweek. However, the time is lost, not free. Businesses risk losing as much as $47.37 per employee each day due to poor business communication–that’s $12,506 per employee a year!

The price only skyrockets when you consider that the time lost could have been put to use in more productive areas. Instead of closing new deals and enhancing the client experience, leaders find themselves losing business from unmet deadlines and unsatisfied clients.

These consequences are interconnected and can make you feel like you’re in a negative feedback loop. Imagine you are finally back on track and starting a new project. What if you have difficulty understanding your next steps or responsibilities due to poor communication? You’re back to stage one: resolving communication issues and trying to understand what to do next!

Quit resolving problems and start implementing solutions

Organizations need to proactively manage ineffective communications and implement practices to increase the amount of time spent communicating effectively. Try these strategies to get your team on the same page:

  1. Consider your tone and timing: What you are saying and how you say it is important. Create a culture around communication, set guidelines to nurture empathy and emotional intelligence, and build awareness of tone and timing. Once you do this, you’ll help your company and team members communicate better.
  2. Curate and clarify communication channels: There are various ways to communicate internally. To do this, define the purpose of each channel so your team can quickly identify the most appropriate channel for their message. When you strategically organize your tech tools, teams streamline and enable better communication.
  3. Understand your audience: Everyone has a different kind of communication style. If you have a coworker who needs a lot of information, communicate with more detail and instruction. If another person experiences information overload often, be clear and concise in your messaging.
  4. Be attentive: Someone may seem like they’re listening, but listening and paying attention are not the same thing. Often, people overlook this simple tip, but it’s all about actively listening and staying attentive when interacting with others.
  5. Be clear: Clarity is the most critical part of effective communication. While speaking or writing, be clear about what you want to convey. However, there’s always the possibility someone will still not understand, so encourage your team to ask questions to ensure shared understanding.
  6. Empower those in the middle: Your middle managers are the messengers throughout your organization, so empower them with effective communication strategies. This will equip them to deliver consistent messages and provide answers to any emerging questions or needs. Also, hold regular meetings to provide updates or information they can share with their teams. When your managers are in the know, you’ll notice more consistency and less misinformation.

Lead effectively

Business communication is the backbone of your company’s ability to innovate, collaborate, perform, and achieve successful outcomes. It is an exchange that takes up a lot of time and energy from your team’s workweek; therefore, it’s essential to have solid communication!

When you practice and implement effective communication in your company, you are not merely cleaning up processes and removing friction. You become a leader that can manage the present, handle the unpredictable, and sustain a talented team that will help you pave a path to a brighter future.


Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by bowie15

Just the Facts: Employee Healthcare Literacy

As mentioned in the previous week’s blog—only 4 to 14% of adults in the United States have a basic understanding of health insurance.

What does this mean? It means out of the current US population of 329.5 million, only 13.2 to 46.1 million people have the knowledge to understand their health insurance fully!

Instead of leaving your employees out in the cold and leaving their decisions about health insurance and healthcare to chance, help your employees understand why healthcare literacy is so important, so it can empower them to make good decisions.

The first step? Understanding what healthcare literacy is.

What is healthcare literacy?

It is how people interpret or act on health information and services. For example, receiving medication from a doctor and knowing how to read the label to decipher how much medicine to take or understanding and interpreting a medical invoice is considered a form of healthcare literacy.

There are two different types:

  • Personal healthcare literacy, or how well someone can find and understand health information/services needed.
  • Organizational healthcare literacy, or how well businesses/organizations help their employees find health information/services required.

Both types are about using health information and services to make the best health decisions possible.

What can affect healthcare literacy?

Many factors can affect someone’s healthcare literacy. For instance, if someone does not understand medical terms, they may not be able to understand or interpret a doctor’s diagnosis. Other factors that could potentially affect healthcare literacy are lacking an understanding of the healthcare system and how it works and other personal factors such as age, income, education, culture, language abilities, reading skills, writing skills, and math skills.

What happens if someone has poor healthcare literacy?

A person with poor healthcare literacy will often delay or avoid care, will not understand the costs associated with out-of-network care, will not ask their employer questions about their health insurance plan, and will be less likely to use preventive services and care, such as getting a flu shot.

Why is employee healthcare literacy important?

At some point, your employees will need to use their health insurance to access and understand health information and services like prescription services.

Their level of healthcare literacy affects:

  • The ability to navigate their health insurance plan and the healthcare system to find needed doctors and services.
  • Knowing when to share personal information with healthcare providers.
  • Practicing self-care and at-home procedures, as well as using preventative health services.
  • Understanding concepts such as cost-benefit ratios (weighing the risks and benefits of receiving medical treatment).

Having strong healthcare literacy lets your employees find the information and services they need, effectively communicate with their healthcare providers about needs/preferences, and understand their health condition and choices they have about treatments and doctors so they can decide what services and options are the best for them.

How can you, as an employer, help improve healthcare literacy?

A good step on the path to improving literacy is to ask your employees about their understanding of health insurance terms and concepts. You can use their answers and thoughts to specifically address areas where knowledge might be lacking.

Also, be sure to lean on and use your broker or advisor as a resource. Look at what they offer in terms of support to members in understanding their benefits and being healthcare literate. This can include resources, online portals, and mobile apps.

Understanding is one of many steps

Understanding healthcare literacy and what it is will help your employees understand what it is as well. Increasing healthcare literacy in your organization will, in turn, create well-informed and knowledgeable employees who feel confident and take charge of their healthcare decisions. And, as they say, knowledge is power.


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Photo by dolgachov