Impostor syndrome involves feelings of self-doubt and personal incompetence, and believing that you are undeserving of your achievements (e.g. new job, promotion, raise, etc.). A common symptom of imposter syndrome is comparing yourself to your colleagues and thinking you’re worse at your job than they are.
Impostor syndrome is often the most common when you are going through transitions and doing new things. The pressure to achieve and succeed combined with a lack of experience can trigger feelings of inadequacy in these new settings.
So, whether you got a new job, changed to a new project, or changed position within the company, the impostor syndrome can sneak up on you and you can feel some of the things mentioned above.
The silver lining in feeling like an imposter is that you’re never alone. Millions of employees all over the world feel the same way you do, so having those feelings is definitely not uncommon. Some research shows that around 70% of people experience impostor syndrome at some point in their careers.
Imagine these three scenarios
You got a job at Infinum and now you have to learn a lot of new things, both regarding the company and your new team. You are meeting a bunch of new people whose names you’re probably immediately forgetting. You’re coming across some new tools you never used and now you have to learn them. You’re reading a lot of documentation to get to know how the company and your team work. All of this is probably happening at the same time.
You are new at this job and you got your first project(s). Now you are meeting even more new colleagues who you’ll be working with and, this time, you’re meeting the clients as well. You’re reading the project’s documentation to get familiar with it and realising that not everything is clear to you. You also have to get familiar with the project’s way of working which depends from one project to another and its group dynamic.
You’ve been working at Infinum for some time. You know most of your colleagues and you know how to handle multiple projects at the same time. However, it is time to switch from one project to another. The new project is in a completely new domain you are not familiar with. There are some new colleagues and, of course, new clients. They’re using the tools you have heard of, but never used. You’re reading the project’s documentation, but it’s not entirely clear to you.
Every one of these three scenarios can be a trigger for impostor syndrome. It doesn’t mean that it will happen, but if it happens, know that it is ok and that you’re probably not the only one having those feelings.
Can you overcome impostor syndrome?
Yes, at least partially. There are some things you can do to overcome it or lessen its effect:
1. Find out about impostor syndrome and become aware of it. This one you just did! Knowing about it and anticipating it when a specific new thing happens next time makes it easier to overcome it.
2. Share your experience and talk to your colleagues or team lead about it. Irrational beliefs tend to become worse if they are hidden and not talked about. By sharing your experience you’ll probably (if not definitely) find a colleague who resonates with your feelings and then you may find peace in knowing that you are actually not alone.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions. There are always colleagues who have strengths and knowledge in certain areas you don’t, and vice versa. Asking questions doesn’t make you less worthy, but rather creates an opportunity for you and your colleagues to learn from one another to grow and succeed in your roles.
4. Know that it’s OK not to know everything and not to know what you’re doing. After any change, like a new job, a new position, or a new project, there's always a steep learning curve. Allow yourself to mess up at any new beginning. You are human, after all.
5. Toot your own horn. Every accomplishment, big or small, is a reason to celebrate. And, if you’re comfortable, share the accomplishment with your colleagues.