We’ve all come across work colleagues who seem very assured, assertive, and comfortable expressing opinions or trying something new. Others though hang back, tentative in approach, and quickly back-down when questioned. How confident someone is (or seems) is not fixed and changes with the situation they’re in. ‘Fake it until you make it’ works for some, but there are ways a manager can actively build self-confidence in others and there are good reasons for doing so.
According to a recent survey by Indeed, 98% of workers say they perform better and 94% say that they feel happier when they’re confident. 97% agree that confidence matters when securing a promotion, and 94% believe it’s a major contributor to overall career growth. As confident employees are happier, more productive and less likely to leave, raising confidence levels benefits teams and companies as well (Indeed, Jan 2020).
Confidence is created, not given. If you find yourself managing someone who lacks confidence in their abilities, here are some ways to help them become more assured, and thrive. 1. Provide more details and resources when presenting new tasks
Be mindful of how you present new tasks to teammates who lack self-confidence. Provide clear guidance for what you need, how it should look, previous examples and, if possible, the name of someone who’s done it before who can answer questions. It may seem effortful the first time but providing the groundwork the first time gives something to build upon in future and makes a task that initially seems intimidating much easier to achieve.
2. Build momentum upon previous achievements
Keep in mind your teammate’s strengths and previous achievements, and encourage them to consider how they can apply these to a new project. Help them to identify some quick wins and provide a framework for support and check-ins. People’s confidence (and motivation) generally grows when they can put their skills into practice. When someone lacks confidence it’s better to give them more responsibility gradually, breaking difficult tasks down into smaller steps and celebrating incremental improvements.
3. Help them prepare Being thoroughly prepared for a situation helps to make it seem more manageable. By helping an unconfident teammate prepare for a situation, and talking through scenarios that may arise, it becomes more familiar and easier for them to handle.
4. Show appreciation for a job well done
Nothing improves performance like timely feedback. Providing positive feedback is a great way to motivate team members to keep striving even when they’re struggling. Similarly, getting peers onboard to celebrate each other’s wins helps to build motivation and momentum. It’s important to be specific in your praise “Great job!” will fall on deaf ears with someone who doesn’t buy it. Giving examples and detail helps to provide context. “When you said X, did you see how the client opened up and listened to your opinion? We made great progress today, thanks to your contribution.”
When someone lacks confidence, even the smallest mistake can affirm feelings of inadequacy. It’s important to let them know that it’s OK to make mistakes - as long as they aren’t the same ones each time. Knowing that they have space to learn from their mistakes rather than being penalized for them removes stress and anxiety from a situation. It’s through taking risks and making mistakes that true growth happens.
Building the confidence of your team members takes time and energy but it’s also one of the most rewarding aspects of being a manager. By helping your teammates become more confident in their abilities, you not only help them in their professional development, you are also steadily creating a higher-performing, and more engaged team.