As we have already seen confidence is elastic. Even the most self-assured can suffer crises of confidence, resulting in a crushing downward spiral. This can be recognised through a number of difference behaviours: prevarication and the continued need for reassurance in decision making; increased anxiety and over-confidence. It is useful then for both individuals and their managers to understand key influences in order to try and mitigate against them.
- Control. Confidence also comes from a sense of being in control. The uncertainty of the 21st century workplace is unlike any that has come before: expectations that employees are available 24-7, the lack of job security, growing presenteeism. Businesses need to counteract uncertainty through effective communication. Individuals need to focus on what they are able to influence and become more accepting of that which they can’t.
- Role Transitions. For example promotion (especially where an individual is promoted to be a manager of their peers), restructures, maternity/paternity leave, redundancy, return to work post career break. These situational changes can similarly trigger a sense of losing control and self-doubt. These individuals may need additional support.
- Inclusion and Diversity. Demographic groups working in a role/industry where they are traditionally or currently under-represented (for example, female employees in engineering or tech roles; BAME employees in finance or government; or employees from lower socio-economic backgrounds in law) may have lower confidence despite being at least equally talented in comparison to their peers. Clients I have worked with in this situation describe themselves as suffering from ‘imposter syndrome’. Businesses need to identify and address any prejudices within the organisation and may need to provide additional support for these individuals.
- Faceboast. Social media has become a barrage of showboating from ‘friends’ which may elicit unhelpful comparisons. We need to acknowledge that this is the case and perhaps be a little more authentic in the way that we portray ourselves.