Let’s remove ‘Imposter Syndrome’ from the workplace

Have you ever won a big contract, delivered an excellent pitch, or been invited to share your expert opinion? Have you done so whilst believing that you aren’t worthy of being in that position?

You could be experiencing a syndrome that manifests itself as growing self-doubt.

According to a recent UK survey, 62% of the workforce have experienced ‘Imposter Syndrome’ in the last 12 months. Perhaps unsurprisingly, woman and high achievers are among the most affected, while men do experience the syndrome, it occurs with less intensity and frequency.

Some attribute this to decreased levels of testosterone in women, as the hormone is often referred to as the ‘confidence hormone’. However, conflicting theories state that men are less likely to discuss their experiences because of the ‘societal pressure’ they feel.

Regardless of gender, what we do know is that the impact of imposter syndrome can leave the sufferer not recognising their full potential, achievements and accomplishments.

Imposter syndrome is described as a psychological pattern in which an individual persistently doubts their accomplishments or is unable to believe that their success has been the result of their hard work and efforts. Those who suffer from this syndrome, also experience internal fear that they will be exposed as a ‘fraud’, waiting for a tap on the shoulder to validate their fears.

The term was coined following a 1978 study by Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes of Georgia State University. The pair reported on their findings in a paper titled, ‘The Imposter Phenomenon in High Achieving Woman: Dynamics and Therapeutic Intervention’.

We have all experienced imposter syndrome at some point in our careers, even if it was not recognised as such. Maybe we’ve attributed big wins and achievements as ‘luck’ rather than giving ourselves the recognition we deserve.

Those who feel the impact of imposter syndrome in its full force often find the self-doubt crippling, and according to the American Psychological Association, at the extreme end, can even go on to suffer from severe anxiety and depression.

We’ve teamed up with career coach Melanie Coeshott, founder of Blue Diamond, to tackle the issue of imposter syndrome head on.

Our collaborative workshop took place at the ACR offices located in Lynchwood. The out of office ‘happy hour’ event saw business and HR professionals join to listen to Melanie explain some of the myths that surround imposter syndrome. Melanie also provided attendees with the tools required to identify and recognise the signs, as well as long-term strategies that can help those experiencing the syndrome.

After the workshop, Melanie voiced her thoughts on the event: “It was a really interesting session to listen to and share many stories about imposter syndrome and how common it actually is. The professionals in the workshop were very engaging and highly receptive to identifying ways to spot this trait – and of course, how to address any negative thoughts and feelings regarding their individual success and achievement.”

We regularly host events that help businesses in overcoming HR, recruitment and performance challenges, including events that harness the expertise of other local businesses. To keep up to date on our upcoming events, you can visit our events page.

About the Author

Anne Corder

Anne Corder


Whilst still actively handling recruitment assignments, Anne specialises in Human Resources with many years of experience in that sector. She blogs on wider recruitment issues affecting both candidates and clients, commenting and offering tips and advice to help achieve the right outcomes.