Good leaders know that the more confidence an individual possesses the more efficient and productive they tend to be in meeting their goals. Yet, employees of a certain age often believe that it’s too late to become a confident presenter, successful leader or effective manager, and that their window of opportunity closed somewhere between their formative years and now. However, these beliefs are simply myths. By helping our employees grow in self-esteem and confidence, we support them in becoming more resilient, productive and loyal both to us as their leaders and to the organization as a whole. Below are a few practical steps that will help you build a stronger, more profitable workforce.
- Understand what zaps their confidence: An Employee’s level of confidence may vary based on the specific project they are working on. Each person brings their personal beliefs about their capabilities to the job. As you monitor their level of performance, you can observe how they handle different situations. Determine the circumstances where your employee’s exhibit signs of low self-confidence and document them. You will likely discover that they lack self-esteem in areas where they lack skill and/or knowledge.
- Identify the skill gap: Have a conversation with your employee and discuss what skills are needed to master the situation in question. Let’s suppose that they become fearful when asked questions during a large group meeting, therefore the missing skill set may include presentation skills and knowledge of professional protocols during various types of meetings. It’s also important to set clear direction and expectations around performance so every member of the team knows what is expected of them.
- Teach the necessary skills: Once you’ve worked together to identify the missing skills, allow them the opportunity to succeed by providing training, as well as the time and resources necessary to master new skills.
- Show them they are unique and special: People who believe they are unique and special tend to have higher levels of confidence. Try taking the time to recognize the employee when they’ve done excellent work. This type of acknowledgement adds to the employee’s confidence and encourages them to take risks. Don’t assume they know when their work was great — tell them!
- Build on their strengths: Confident people have a tendency to remind themselves of their good qualities, achievements and abilities. We can help build confidence and encourage employees to achieve even more by focusing on their knowledge, skills and past contributions. Use these building blocks whenever you can do so genuinely. Also try linking their strengths to other less confident areas. For example, you might say “Sam, you have an amazing memory for data recall – I imagine this ability serves you well when discussing critical issues with your research team. How might you build on this skill to enhance your comfort while speaking up in meetings?”
Nourishing your employee’s confidence can be a rewarding experience for you both. Assisting them in developing the skills and knowledge necessary to achieve goals and face professional and personal challenges successfully takes time. Remember, psychological research shows that it takes about 66 days to create a new habit, so the entire process of strengthening an employee’s “confidence muscle” may easily take three to six months. Once the process begins make sure you follow-up monthly until you see the results you’re looking for. Afterwards, quarterly check-ins should be sufficient to continue the process and support your employee as they soar to new heights of success.