How to break the imposter cycle in your organisation

70% of high achievers live in persistent fear of people finding out that they “don’t have a clue” what they’re doing. Despite evidence to the contrary, such as hard-earned degrees or a proven track record, they still attribute their achievements to luck, fate or simply good timing.

If that sounds like some of your employees, they might be suffering from a condition called imposter syndrome. As an HR practitioner, you can substantially eliminate fear of failure in your organisation and open up your employees to real, lasting success. Here are some practical ways to do this.

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Four surprising benefits of positive emotions

With ‘positive thinking’ being constantly touted in pop psychology, do you find yourself feeling guilty about your negative emotions? Don’t be. Your perceived ‘negative’ or uncomfortable feelings are just as important as the positive ones in helping you evaluate your experiences and make sense out of life’s complexity.

Uncomfortable emotions are often associated with a tendency to act in self-preserving ways. When you’re afraid, your tendency is to escape; when you’re angry, your tendency is to attack. In dangerous situations, this can help you survive. But here’s an interesting question: what role do positive emotions play in human survival?

Barbara Frederickson, a key researcher in the field of positive psychology, developed the ‘broaden and build’ theory, which explains how experiencing positive emotions opens you up to new experiences.

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To build strong teams, find their signature strengths

Knowing what your signature strengths are, can boost your well-being – and it’s boosted even further when you regularly utilise those strengths. Leaders and managers are now regularly using character strengths exercises to help employees become more engaged, productive and happy.

In my last article Find your strengths, find inspiration for success, we discussed how to identify your signature strengths and how to work them into your day:

  • Take a signature strengths assessment
  • Use your strengths in new ways
  • Record the positive results of using signature strengths
  • Reconnect with your inner child

If you are an HR practitioner, you can use signature strengths to develop employee purpose, motivation and performance. Here are some simple steps you can take this week.

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Find your strengths, find inspiration for success

Have you ever been advised to “do what you love and success will follow”? This may be more than just cliché. When you’re doing what you love, you are likely to be using your signature strengths. This means that you are not only doing what you’re good at, but you are at your happiest as well.

Positive psychologists define strengths as the things you excel at – and which energise you. Unlike skills you’ve learned or behaviours you’ve adopted, your strengths are an innate part of your psychological makeup. They make you who you are at your core.

If you want to tap into the impressive power of being strengths-focused, here are four simple steps to implement.

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Motivate your people by helping them self-motivate

All HR specialists know this: money isn’t a reward that drives superior employee engagement. The type of motivation that really sparks creativity and makes people engaged, is motivation that comes from within. Psychologists calk this ‘intrinsic motivation.’

If you’ve read Rev up your motivation in 4 steps, you know there are four basic ways to build intrinsic motivation at work:

  • Tap into the power of self-direction
  • Set approach goals, not avoidance goals
  • Align goals to signature strengths
  • Avoid focusing too extensively on reward systems

So how can HR practitioners and L&D experts put these principles into action? Here are some practical tips for enhancing motivation in your business.

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Rev up your motivation in 4 steps

Why do you do the things you do? What is it that drives your behaviour? Motivation does.

Some forms of motivation come from within. We call these drive, self-determination and vision. Other forms of motivation are external — these include pay cheques, rewards, praise and fame. Externally sourced motivation has less impact and are less likely to propel you towards success in the long-term.

When your motivation comes from within, it’s a powerful force. Psychologists call this type of motivation ‘intrinsic.’

Here are four principles you can use to boost intrinsic motivation at work.

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Real HR leaders foster growth mindsets… here’s how

How is success measured in your business? Is it assessed in terms of the results achieved? Or is the effort exerted also important? In businesses that cultivate growth mindsets, learning from mistakes and focusing on results is a measure of success. As an HR or L&D practitioner, there are many concrete steps you can take to promote growth mindsets in your organisation. Here are four to get you started.

Shift management assumptions

Examine any assumptions that managers have made about their teams. Do some managers assume that their team members cannot take on new responsibilities? Do they talk about ‘stars’ and ‘problem people’? Or do they act on the assumption that people can learn and grow continuously? Help managers shift their thinking by encouraging them to focus on employee strengths and abilities, rather than weaknesses and ‘capability gaps.’

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Your beliefs can hurt or help…it’s your choice

Have you ever wondered why some people just reach milestone after milestone in their careers – and others seem to be perpetually stuck? That’s how powerful the mind is. With the wrong mindset, you can’t learn, grow or develop new skills. But with the right mindset, the sky is the limit!

Carol Dweck, a Stanford University professor, says there are two main ways people think about their abilities: through a ‘fixed’ mindset and a ‘growth’ mindset.

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From stress to success in four easy steps

In today’s high-velocity workplace environment, HR practitioners need robust tools for enabling employees to build resilience and reduce stress. You can find those tools in the suite of techniques developed by positive psychology researchers. The point about these tools is they are backed by science: they’re founded in real psychology, not pop psychology. In a previous article Stay positive in tough times, I explained four evidence-based interventions that support the development of resilient thinking:

  • Actively building hope that the future can be (even) better than the present
  • Connecting to a sense of higher purpose
  • Looking after the self
  • Using learned optimism techniques to foster solution-focused thinking

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Stay positive in tough times

How would respond if you made a huge mistake at work? What if you suddenly lost your job? What would your next steps be? Are you resilient enough not to break from the stress?

Resilience is not just a word touted in workplace well-being programs – it’s a fundamental approach to life. It’s the ability to bounce back from adversity and to experience setbacks without letting them negatively impact your optimism for the future.

Resilient thinkers have a core set of beliefs and practices in common. How can you can adopt these beliefs and practices? Here are some tips to get you started.

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