How employers can combat the challenge of imposter syndrome


Imposter syndrome is a term coined in the late 1970s by two American psychologists, who defined this as a phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. Simply put, imposter syndrome is a feeling that you are not really qualified for your job despite all the external validation you may have, such as previous work experience, a degree or other qualification. At Accentuate HR we believe that tackling the imposter syndrome is essential to bring out the best work not only in yourself, but in your employees and colleagues as well.

Additionally, it is worth mentioning that this feeling of inferiority is more widespread than we may first imagine. Recent studies published in the Journal of Behavioural Science have stated that up to 70 per cent of the U.S. population has experienced what has become known as imposter syndrome. It is also striking to note that this does not only affect people early in their career, who may not have much experience to validate their talents yet, but this affects those at the very top of their chosen field.

With high numbers of individuals expected to suffer from imposter syndrome, at least once in their careers, at Accentuate HR we believe that it is of importance that people know how best to cope with the issue.


In order to service our clients to the highest standard, Accentuate HR regularly consults with experts in a variety of fields so that we can offer the most effective and comprehensive advice possible. In this instance, we have spoken to Donna Elliott and Cheryl Lee from Now is Your Time, who have offered the following tips to employers on how best to combat the challenge of the imposter syndrome in the workplace.

  • “It’s important to you acknowledge that the voice in your head isn’t you going crazy, it is just a thought! Probably a really engrained one which may have become a part of your belief system, and you have the power to change these thoughts”
  • “It is key to know that you are not alone as it can be such an isolating syndrome”
  • “Get conscious of what it is that you’re saying to yourself. Make a log, see what critical voices and words come up most and when that happens”
  • “Start to replace your critical thoughts with some really positive supportive ones. This will retrain your thoughts at a deep level”
  • “Talk about it. Share how you feel with someone. It takes the fear and the power away from something when you bring it out into the daylight"
  • “Work on your positive mindset. You can’t be negative and positive at the same time, so get good at training your brain to think good things. Remind yourself of the things in your life that make you happy on a daily basis”
  • “Keep a 'Wins Log’ of all the things you did that made you feel good, then read and wallow in this regularly to boost your self-esteem”

As employers you can help embed a healthy culture of mental and emotional wellbeing into the workplace:

  • “As Leaders you can help set the tone and culture in your business”
  • “Reward the right attitude and behaviour as much as results”
  • “Create a really open and honest culture”
  • “Have the real conversations. Ask people how they are. Not in the rhetorical way but really ask them how they are. Know your people well enough to know when they’re not ok”
  • “Ensure 121’s, return to works, coaching conversations are working effectively and do not become a tick box exercise”

Understanding what imposter syndrome is and developing a strategy to combat it is not as easy as it may seem.

For further information on how to deal with the challenge of the imposter syndrome Accentuate HR recommends working with companies such as Now Is Your Time who can be reached at

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