Imposter Syndrome in the Digital Workplace

Published 25th March 2022 by

Clark Fennell

Front End Web Developer

Full Stack Web Developer specialising in Front-End languages, with a passion for HTML, SASS, jQuery and PHP. Experienced in "mobile-first" and responsive designed websites.

A lot of people, including myself, have had those thoughts in the workplace. You know the ones: “Am I doing this the way I should be?”, “Is my work good enough?”, “Why do I feel inferior to my colleagues?’

It’s more common than you realise. These thoughts and feelings are known as Imposter Syndrome and, as a study in 2020 suggests, up to 82% of people in the workplace have been affected by it. I have experienced this too, and the feeling of being a fraud in the digital workplace, especially as a developer, is a tough nut to crack.

There are five types of Imposter Syndrome:

  • The Perfectionist – Someone who sets extremely high bars for themselves, and in some cases sets goals that subconsciously they know they can not reach.
  • The Superwoman/Superman – A person who sees themselves as inferior to others, so will work extra hard and/or longer to match up to what they believe is the high measure of their work colleagues.
  • The Expert – Someone who believes that they should know everything about their said subject/work, and fear that they will be exposed for not knowing everything.
  • The Soloist – A person who feels like they shouldn’t ask for assistance so that they can prove themselves to others as competent.
  • The Natural Genius – Like the Perfectionist, these people set incredibly high bars for themselves, but also believe that they should get everything right the first time. Because of this, they judge their abilities by how fast and how easy they do things or if they don’t master something right away.

Many of you have possibly felt one or more of these types of Imposter Syndrome, but over the years, I’ve found a few little tips and tricks that have helped me along the way.

How To Overcome Imposter Syndrome

The biggest help with this, and in any issue of mental health in the workplace, is communication. Having a rapport with your fellow co-workers, bosses, even clients, can be a huge help when it comes to easing your concerns. The ability to be able to talk to anyone about issues and troubles you may be having allows others to sympathise with you and also allows you to create an easier work environment. I feel quite lucky in this, as the Flaunt Digital team are all great communicators. We listen not only to our clients needs, but to each other, which creates a great environment to work in.

Another huge help for me is that I’m lucky enough to work with a diverse group of people, who all excel in their own areas and can happily mentor anybody in those areas, no matter the position they are in. Working in a digital environment that is constantly trying to improve and better itself can add to stress, especially as everyone has different learning processes. Again, good communication, along with the mentoring from your fellow peers, can help you take a step away from the nagging inner dialogue that is affecting mental health and causing imposter syndrome.

Flaunt Digital does this well. With each department growing each year, we find new ideas from everyone coming together, instead of being at competition with each other. I’ve found personally that there is enough competition between digital agencies already, that having an internal competitive work environment just brings about more pressure, which in turn can have a negative impact on anyone’s mental health. I’ve not only learnt a lot from others in the workplace, but also have been able to help others from every department in the company.

Coming out of the pandemic and slowly getting back into a hybrid work lifestyle, I’ve been very lucky to have the support around me. Finding out that I am neurodivergent (when someone’s brain processes, learns and/or behaves differently from what is considered “typical”), and suffering from depression and anxiety, has made me think about my mental health more than ever before. It’s something that should be key in any and all workplaces, as the health of all employees, both mental and physical, should be priority one for any business. Without your team, you have no business.

With that, remember that talking to someone, to anyone, is a huge help towards your mental health. Ask your employers about how they can help support your mental health within the workplace. There are also a number of websites you can go to for help, including the following:

Just remember, someone is always there to listen and help, even if it feels like there isn’t. Many people are going through similar things. Look after yourself first, a good workplace will understand that your health needs should come before any work.