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How to help your employees overcome Imposter Syndrome


Starting a new job can be tough and when we achieve a new position in our careers, it can feel a little like we’re faking it to make it. Imposter Syndrome, which is experienced by over 60% of UK workers, is experienced commonly as we take on more responsibility. Expert advice by Chantal Gautier, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at The University of Westminster, offers tips for individuals and businesses that help to understand how to help employees overcome Imposter Syndrome…

What can you do to overcome Imposter Syndrome

1.Recognise that you’re experiencing Imposter Syndrome

This will help you to identify negative thinking traps. Once you realise that Imposter Syndrome has caused you to become stuck in an unhelpful cycle of thoughts, you can use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy techniques to help challenge those negative thoughts and turn your mood around.

2. Learn to ask for what you need

Asking for support is actually a sign of strength. Struggling in silence can be very lonely in the workplace. Break the silence and seek out support as soon as you can to avoid a build up of work and worry.

3.Be kind and compassionate to yourself

Remind yourself of successes and wins. Keep a list of your achievements and nice things and compliments people have said about you and your work – dig it out when Imposter Syndrome sets in.

4. Focus on self-validation versus external validation

When praise from others isn’t forthcoming, it can be time to look inside for some encouragement. Set realistic goals that challenge you and reward yourself for completing them.

5. Reframe negative self-talk

No one’s perfect, and mistakes do not equal failure. Try to regard learning experiences as growth, rather than a shortfall or skill deficit. This will help to validate feelings of self-worth.

How can businesses support employees experiencing Imposter Syndrome

1.Create psychologically safe working climates

Colleagues will be more likely to open up about their vulnerabilities in a space where judgement is suspended in favour of a nurturing environment. Encourage conversations at all levels – often people who struggle with Imposter Syndrome will often appear lonely, and will benefit greatly from social interaction.

2. Encourage healthy work/life balances
Work is a big part of many people’s lives, but it should always be balanced with the individual’s need for rest and relaxation. Feelings of inadequacy spawned from Imposter Syndrome can lead to a vicious cycle in which individuals overwork, miss out on rest and struggle to perform.

3. Celebrate successes and avoid a blame culture

Foster environments that encourage growth, and succession planning. Don’t blame or punish people when they make mistakes.

4. Adopt mentoring and coaching practices
One-to-one guidance from more experienced colleagues can help those new to the workforce to feel supported.

5. Spotting Imposter Syndrome
Keep an eye on colleagues who seem to be struggling or show signs of anxiety. Look for warning signs such as withdrawal from team interactions, a tendency to overwork, or habitual procrastination. Recognising these red flags can be the first step in offering support and addressing the issue.

Cities in the UK most concerned about Imposter Syndrome

The UK’s most trusted printer, Solopress undertook research to determine which UK cities demonstrate the highest levels of concern around Imposter Syndrome. They have also sought the

Using Google search volume data, Solopress has calculated the average monthly searches for Imposter Syndrome per 10,000 people, in the 30 most populous cities in the UK.

Mancunians seem to have the greatest concern around Imposter Syndrome, with 22 average searches per 10,000 people every month, followed by those living in Leeds (15), Birmingham (13) and London (13).

The top 10 UK Cities that experience the most Imposter Syndrome

Rank City Population Avg monthly searches Avg monthly searches per 10,000
1 Manchester 395,515 880 22
2 Leeds 455,123 720 15
3 Birmingham 984,333 1,300 13
4 London 7,556,900 9,900 13
5 Edinburgh 464,990 590 12
6 Glasgow 591,620 720 12
7 Milton Keynes 229,941 260 11
8 Bristol 617,280 590 9
9 Belfast 274,770 260 9
10 Coventry 359,262 320 8

Chantal suggests that ‘our most diverse and multicultural cities seem to be Imposter Syndrome hotspots’, which is reflected in the data that we see above.

She says “One contributing factor is the intricate interplay between local demographics and socio-economic circumstances. Cities with higher Imposter Syndrome rates might exhibit a greater representation of women and minority groups in their labour force. 

It’s worth mentioning that London, Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds double as prominent University cities and research shows that Imposter Syndrome is not only confined to the professional realm, but students too, are susceptible to its effects, particularly those from minority backgrounds.”

The 10 Cities that experience the least Imposter Syndrome in the UK

Rank City Population Avg monthly searches Avg monthly searches per 10,000
1 Newport 306,844 20 0.65
2 Blackpool 239,409 50 2.09
3 Sunderland 335,415 90 2.68
4 Nottingham 729,977 210 2.88
5 Stoke-on-Trent 372,775 110 2.95
6 Kingston upon Hull 314,018 110 3.50
7 Southend-on-Sea 295,310 110 3.72
8 Cardiff 447,287 170 3.80
9 Derby 270,468 110 4.07
10 Luton 258,018 110 4.26

The city searching for Imposter Syndrome the least is Newport, with less than 1 search per 10,000 people a month, followed by Blackpool (2 searches) and Sunderland (3 searches).

It’s interesting that these three cities are port cities – known for their heavy industry, rather than service-based jobs.

Thus, Imposter Syndrome may be less common in manufacturing and logistics sectors where workers can see the physical result of their efforts -unlike in office work where the outcomes are often more abstract.