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Do you ever think you’re incompetent?

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HC Online | 03 Jul 2012, 12:00 AM Agree 0
You may have imposter syndrome: an affliction felt by many career women who ooze confidence, yet feel they don’t deserve their achievements.
  • Max Underhill | 03 Jul 2012, 03:15 PM Agree 0
    The imposter syndrome is the same cause as high recruitment disengagement. Employees or potential employees do not have a well defined specification of the role or of what is expected of them. An outcome-based competency position description that incorporates the performance measures (in a format that allows the employee to manage their own performance - empowerment)will let the employee know how they are performing before the "boss". Tell me what you want, specify it properly, let me get on and do it and I will tell you how I have performed, good or bad. I will know when I need help and where to get it. Would we go out to buy a piece of equipment without a proper defined specification - but we seem to be happy leaving people in this grey zone.
  • Popscorn | 06 Jul 2012, 08:40 AM Agree 0
    Interesting article. Worth mentioning that plenty of male colleagues suffer the same way.
  • Catherine Moynihan | 09 Jul 2012, 02:50 PM Agree 0
    I am an organisational development consultant and Executive/Leadership coach and I certainly observe and discuss this with many senior women whom I work with.
    Feeling aligned and integrated as a person is key to success...feeling an imposter is a key inhibitor to this, it is time consuming and energy sapping Hence strategies to navigate through this will provide leaders (male and female) with the opportunity to unleash the shackles of this 'performance doom loop'.
    So what is the solution...you may ask?
    It is my experience that clearly defining individual strengths and personal goals and intentionally creating opportunities to reinforce and actively notice them is critical. Furthermore proactively seeking clarification on performance expectations (from Boards, CEOs and senior leaders) is critical.
    In the absence of clear performance goals, which is unfortunately often the case we are presented with an opportunity to drive and define it ourselves. Hence a more individually empowering strategy is to drive the performance discussion oneself...be clear on what you want to be known for...the work that you excel at and set personal performance expectations aligned to this which ALSO drive organisational and individual success and checking these off with the business.
    This can be complimented by establishing a ‘Personal Brand and Reputation map’ which defines key stakeholder expectations, evidence of delivering on these and pathways to communicate and leverage success stories so that success & 'feeling' successful becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
    I wish you all the best with this ongoing journey. Know you are not alone, know also that there are strategies to find a more satisfied and integrated you; this is a ‘condition’ you do not have to accept.
  • Sue | 09 Jul 2012, 03:20 PM Agree 0
    .I wish this feeling was as simple as having an undefined role, how easy it would be to fix with an unclear Position Outline. Comments so far are from those that have obviously not suffered malaise and the inner depths of the feeling incompetent at times. Despite positive feedback, pay rises and even winning awards does not undo the hardwiring underneath. No depth of feedback seems to reach there and whilst you work at your best everyday depending what is going on for you then no one can ask anything more.
  • Suzanne Mercier | 07 Oct 2012, 04:37 PM Agree 0
    I certainly have experienced it. When I learned what the syndrome was 3 1/2 years ago, I realised it explained so many career decisions I made over my 30 years to date. I now work in the area of helping individuals recognise whether the Imposter Synrome is impacting their identity and performance.

    Essentially 70% of us know what it is to experience that feeling of being a fake and fraud, afraid someone will figure out we don't deserve our current success and ask us to leave.

    Our tendency to experience it will depend on our personality and upbringing. However, this tendency remains latent until something in our external world triggers uncertainty and the feelings of vulnerability that accompany the uncertainty. So when Catherine Moynihan talks about setting clear goals, understanding our strengths and managing expectations, in my experience what she is referring to is doing what we can to impose certainty on an uncertain world.

    The ultimate solution is to recognise that the syndrome is a totally distorted self-view. To overcome it, we need to understand the triggers that create uncertainty and address them; to recognise our weaknesses and not allow them to define us, focussing on our strengths. We need to learn to recognise and accept ourselves, while increasing our EQ, emotional resilience and removing the barriers we have put in place that sabotage our own performance.
  • Carol | 08 Oct 2012, 03:01 PM Agree 0
    .. And I thought it was just me! I think as you get further on in your career you start to compare yourself to the new generation and also question the value of your contribution. I also think that this is reinforced by increasing focus on performance and an expectation of having to do more with less where we never really feel as though we are producing the best quality of work, rather just keeping our heads above water.
  • Max Underhill | 11 Oct 2012, 01:01 PM Agree 0
    Under another discussion we provided examples of 19 manager assessments where we found only 2 were competent and on average managers were 9% under competent with the worst nearly 20% under competent. The reality is these are people "appraising the employees"? In a empowerment based performance management system at least the employee has some control over their outcomes. (We are happy to send anyone a copy of this small research paper if they want it).

    The definition of the position in outcomes, performance measures (defines standard of the outcome) and then identify competence required to deliver the outcomes at the standard set by the performance measures. Once the position description is defined we have a specification to compare/assess/recruit against and know where we have gaps so something can be done about it. A large international recruitment agency said they had 65% disengagement at a HR think tank - when asked why "our customers do not know what they want". What they are saying is the specification is wrong or does not exist so how many of us are round pegs in square holes and at no fault of our own.
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