Resources and Insights

5 ways to boost confidence in a hybrid world

Two really lazy things I have, on occasion, heard from the mouths of leaders:

  1. This team just needs to be more resilient
  2. This person just needs to be more confident

I dislike these as throwaway statements directed at individuals by their employer, because it can be a way of an organisation abstaining from any responsibility for creating a safe, supportive culture. Sound the warning claxon!

The second, the acquisition of confidence.

If it were as straightforward as just deciding to be more confident, there would not be an entire bookshelf entitled ‘Mind, Body, Spirit’ in your local bookshop, and neither Hay House publishing, nor the careers of many a coach/author would exist.

Confidence, which can go up and down within a day, let alone a career, is dependent on so many things outside of our immediate control. Our base level of confidence is impacted by how we experienced education, how we were parented, our formative experiences at work, especially if we are a woman, a person of colour, if we have an accent, a visible disability or are not neuro-typical. Or a blend of any of these things which may exclude us. Basically if we received messages we didn’t really fit in, that’s going to have had an impact.

None of those I’m going to explicitly address here, because if that’s you, you’re already the most qualified person in the room on the subject of what you need, and don’t need, to build your confidence.

What I can talk about is the kind of things that boosted our confidence which we used to get regularly when we all worked in an office, but that in a hybrid, remote world, we may not be getting as much of. Those things we can do something about – both for ourselves and our teams.

Confidence is a slippery old thing. One minute we can be breezing into meetings totally owning this shizzle, and one perceived perplexed look from the finance director and we’re doubting our ability to do our whole job.

Firstly, this is normal. Our confidence levels go up and down (relating to all sorts of things – our hormones and brain chemistry which itself can be related to what we’ve eaten or drunk, the weather, our menstrual cycle if we have one, what kind of interactions we had with our family when we got out of bed in the morning and so on.)

The actual value we bring to our roles, that’s way more steady. It might ebb and flow a bit depending on the context, the newness or stretch of a particular job or project, but it’s our perception of our value that can go up and down day by day.

If you can separate the fact from that perception, or feeling, that’s a great start. (‘I’m rubbish at my job’ vs ‘I’m having a bit of a wobble today’, for example)

If you can normalise dips in confidence that’s also a great start. (I get petrified sometimes and no one would EVER KNOW)

If you can spot those dips in confidence and identify what’s going on (oh, my hormones, the fact I need a holiday) even better.

And if you can put in place a support package for yourself in those moments- now we are getting somewhere.

My support package is about identifying who I want to spend time with and what activities will help. I’ll always start with some DIY EFT (emotional freedom technique) and tap as I narrate how I’m feeling. I’ll block time out in my diary for a rest – a sensory and mental rest, not just a lie down. I’ll text a friend who I fancy a chat with.

What about you?

From conversations I’ve had with clients recently, and my own experiences, the following activities can top up our baseline confidence levels, so if we have a bad hormone day, or pick up a stressful email, we can minimise the impact on our confidence:

1. Face to face time to build relationships

Why? So I understand people more and am not second guessing myself all the time.

2. Ask for feedback

I’m someone who needs to hear when I’m doing a good job, are you? Way to hear that – ask for feedback! I might even learn how I can improve too.

3. Understanding why I’m in my job and what I bring to it (related to the above)

This is about identifying and owning the bits we do really well. No one does every single bit of it well. We all have bits that feel like a breeze, and bits that feel like a chore (tax return? Urgh yuk!)

4. Knowing my team/my boss has my back.

We probably have all experienced the feeling when you feel your boss really doesn’t have your back. In big organisations or systems, there will always be politics. Understanding when it’s about politics and making someone else look good, and therefore nothing about us and how we are doing is a great start. Ask ‘is this about me, or about them doing what they need to, to get the job done?’

Obviously as leaders, we can take proactive steps to help our team know we have their backs!

5. Doing the scary thing then taking time to reflect on what went well and where the learnings were, so I feel even more prepared next time.

I’ve included this because for me the stuff that felt just part of work pre-pandemic became scary again after 2 years of not doing it – for example facilitating a group in real life in a room. And I’m sure you have some similar examples: the team away day, the IRL presentation – all a bit more anxiety inducing than they used to be.

I love the structured reflection sheet that one of my coaching colleagues introduced for a big piece of leadership development work we are doing together. It prompts not only to think: how can we make this better next time? But also ensures we don’t just focus on that, but take a moment to celebrate what went well.

What would you add?

What does your emergency support package include?

And which of the confidence boosting work activities can you incorporate more of? For yourself and for your team?

I’d love to hear your reflections.

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