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Imposter Syndrome

Imposter Syndrome can be defined as an individual possessing feelings of inadequacy despite persistent evidence of success. According to a 2011 study, 70 per cent of people will experience at least one episode of imposter syndrome at one point or another. 

 

This issue has become particularly large in the tech industry with 58 per cent of those with tech-focused careers falling victim to the Imposter Syndrome, according to an informal study by social media site Blind. That doesn’t necessarily mean it only effects those in the tech industry. Anyone from any type of career can suffer.

 

Many people feel the effects of Imposter Sydrome due to the self-narrative that they are not good enough. Everything about this syndrome is based around professionals not believing in themselves. They often feel that although they have been hired and may already be succeeding in their job, they are not capable. It becomes the constant feeling that they are an imposter, pretending to know what they are doing when they feel the opposite. 

 

Over time this can have a significantly negative impact on the person, not only professionally but mentally. In order to make up for their feelings of inadequacy, the person will often give themselves extremely challenging goals that cause them even more stress. 

 

The constant negative self-talk can lead to more serious consequences such as self-loathing, self-sabotage, avoidance and job dissatisfaction. Everything may be going fine on the surface, but deep down they feel they are failing. 

 

As a young professional, it’s easy to suffer from Imposter Syndrome as everything is fairly new. Confidence often comes from the assurance of knowing what you're doing. However, when something new begins, doubt can surface as tasks become more challenging. 

 

To avoid these feelings, it’s important to be conscious of patterns. Celebrating success is not a crime. In fact, praise is often the fuel that pushes people along, assuring them that they are on the right track. 

 

Sharing success is also an undervalued practice. In an attempt to stay humble, most people keep their successes to themselves which in time, diminishes them. 

 

As a young professional, ensure you watch your thoughts and accept your successes. Doing these two simple things will allow you to flourish and avoid the negative impacts of the Imposter Syndrome. 

 

 

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Navigating the Multigenerational Workplace

As a young professional there are many challenges that one faces, not least of which is the reality that most of us nowadays work in a multi-generational environment – and it is probably only going to continue to get even more crowded. What I mean by this is right now you probably work in an environment that has at least one: baby-boomer, Gen Xer, Gen Yer and Millenial.


There are two main thinking points I want to start this article with before we continue, please consider:

  • Life expectancy is rising, people are living longer and so need to secure more income now to cover retirement costs later
  • Cost of living and inflation are out sync – meaning each generation has had less disposable income to help their offspring than the generation before (and you’ll have even less to help your children)

Quick explanation on that last point here:


http://www.economonitor.com/dolanecon/2014/07/23/what-does-the-consumer-price-index-measure-inflation-or-cost-of-living-whats-the-difference/

 

“As Bryan explains it, the cost-of-living concept arises from the role of money as a medium of exchange. When we say the cost of living increases, we mean that it gets harder to maintain a given standard of living on a given income. Either we have to be satisfied with fewer goods or services, or save less, or work harder. In the language of economics, a change in the cost of living is a real phenomenon.


On the other hand, we can best understand inflation as a change in the value of our unit of account, the dollar. When there is inflation, the value of the unit is smaller each day than it was the day before, for all transactions.”

 

So in essence, because each generation has been given less help, each generation has had to provide more for themselves, and what this really leads to is more profound sense of urgency when beginning your first career. Millenials, for instance, are seen as much more ‘pushy’ or ‘impatient’ by their older colleagues – which may or may not be true of ones personality on an individual basis – but when the group is looked at as a whole this is a general impression that is formed.


Take a step back and have a talk with your grandfather (or great-grandfather if you are so lucky) and ask them to tell you about their early professional life. I’ll be a good majority didn’t even attend a post-secondary school for one reason or another, meaning less initial debt when entering the work force, where as you are much more likely to hear that your parents did (and in those cases, you can rest assured that you definitely went to College or University – or at least that it was heavily expected of you).


This is really what Navigating the Multigenerational Workplace is all about – realising the differences in situations not just at the current point in time, but the differences from every other generations point in time at the initial stages compared to your current stage. My personal belief is that before you can have effective dialogue with someone, you need to be able to see how you are perceived from their point of view.


That’s probably the longest intro to a blog post I’ve ever written – so I’ll try to be briefer the rest of the way, feel free to stretch your legs and come back and finish the rest of this.


So the purpose of this post was to try to offer suggestions on how to go about handling the different generations so maybe I’ll list a few out and then get into more detail; these suggestions by the way are targeted at the Millenial group:

 

  • Go slower with your communications and be more exact
  • Communicate with people based on how they like to communicate
  • Be prepared to have the same information in different formats for different audience members
  • Remember that while you like to move fast, it took those ahead of you a long time to get where they are
  • Everyone loves sharing their own story


These five points are probably the five strongest points that have helped me in my careers, they may not all apply to you in every situation but here’s a breakdown of what I mean by each:
 

Go slower with your communications and be more exact


The #1 thing our CEO hates is when he has to reply to an email to extract more details on a particular subject. It results in an increased number of communications and a slower overall turn-around time. Remember, everyone above you in the chain of command probably makes more money than you do – so not to be trite, but that means their time is more valuable than yours. Take 5 extra minutes of your time to save them even 1 of theirs, and it’s worth it – even if they don’t notice. Because trust me if you try to save 5 minutes of your time and end up wasting 20 of theirs, they will notice.


Communicate with people based on how they like to communicate


I still remember the first time I had to send my grand-father an email, I work for a family owned business so at one point we had all three generations here at the same time – you can imagine the communication challenges that presented. About 5 minutes after I had hit send, he was standing over my desk, email printed out in hand, with sections highlighted that he wanted to discuss. I quickly learned that email was probably not the best way to communicate with him if I was hoping for a quick turnaround time.


Be prepared to have the same information in different formats


One of the positions you might find yourself in one day, if you aren’t already, is being a mid-level manager and having a few people that you “report” to in a sense. One of the best books I’ve read about how to deal with the expectations of various levels of management and staff is John Maxwell’s The 360 [degree] leader. If you have a chance I recommend picking up a copy and giving it a thorough read through. Some people are purely analytical, some people are purely visual – most are somewhere in the middle. Be prepared to provide arguments, charts and graphs in different formats, sometimes as simple as having several different ways to word the same information is good enough.
 

Remember that while you like to move fast, it took those ahead of you a long time to get where they are


This point speaks more to the fact that often times us youngsters are perceived as impatient (mentioned above). Most companies that are large enough have clear guidelines as to how long you have to be with the company or how long you have had to have been in your current role before you can apply for a different role or a promotion. Focus daily on being the best at what you’ve been assigned to do and when it comes time to fill other roles you’ll be in a much better position to be asked to fill it rather than applying to every opportunity that comes up.
 

Everyone loves sharing their own story


Human beings are natural story tellers. That’s not to say that everyone feels comfortable standing in a room of 500 people and giving a speech or lecture – but find a quiet relaxing environment to engage with those of different generations around you. This can be especially effective if you spin it in a way that makes it look like you’re asking them for advice in a situation you’ve found yourself in and, because you value their expertise, you would like their opinion on how they would deal with the situation or if they ever encountered a similar situation in their early careers. Above all else when considering this as a strategy you need to be sincere in your request to learn from them.

 

So, if I haven’t completely bored you, you may be wondering why I started the article off with two points:

 

  • Life expectancy is rising, people are living longer and so need to secure more income now to cover retirement costs later
  • Cost of living and inflation are out sync – meaning each generation has had less disposable income to help their offspring than the generation before (and you’ll have even less to help your children)
     

First, so long as you maintain a moderate lifestyle, you will probably be around for many years to come and you may in fact need to plan to work well past the age at which your fathers-father worked until to support that (I could go into the whole CPP fiasco.. but that might turn political, a side lesson here is try to avoid politics in work environments).


Second, you’re entering the work force with different stresses than those ahead of you, and alternatively when you become the “old guy” at the office, those entering will have different stresses than you. While it’s probably not likely that coworkers will begin assisting one another financially, be mindful of others situations and how much you would have liked extra help at your current age when you’re older (I sure hope I do) – and remember, advice and guidance is always free no matter what generation you grew up in.


Sources and / or resources:

 

http://www.economonitor.com/dolanecon/2014/07/23/what-does-the-consumer-price-index-measure-inflation-or-cost-of-living-whats-the-difference/

 

http://www.adecco.ca/EN/knowledge-centre/employers/Documents/whitepapers/managing-multigenerational-workforce.pdf


https://www.johnmaxwell.com/store/products/The-360-Degree-Leader.html


 

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