5 tips on how to be more confident and increase productivity in the workplace

Smiling young African American businesswoman working on a laptop at her desk in a bright modern office with colleagues in the backgroundHere, Emma, founder and managing director at Red Diamond Executive Headhunters shares her top five tips for being more productive and boosting confidence in the workplace.

1. Join the 5am club

The idea of getting out of bed at 5am to do yoga before anyone else is up may sound horrific to some. But an early start gives you the chance to grab some time for yourself before the demands of the day begin. If I make the effort to get up at 5am, that gives me two extra hours in my day. I can work out, meditate or just do some online shopping – it’s my time and I can use it as I wish. When you’re trying to balance a lot of things, if you can get out of bed early you can achieve so much and still be ready for the day to start at 7am when everyone else surfaces! It’s a great stress buster too as you’re not leaping up at the last minute to start rushing around. Just make sure you get an early night the previous evening.

2. Be kind to yourself

Women are notoriously hard on themselves and this can hold us back in the workplace. On the one hand, we wish we were more confident yet on the other, we berate ourselves for being too fat, too thin, too over-dressed, too scruffy – and that’s before we even set foot outside the door. We’ve been unkind to ourselves for many years and it’s a situation that has been exacerbated by things like social media, where we are bombarded with ‘Insta-perfect’ shots of others that make us feel inadequate, despite the fact we know very well these photos have been through several filters before they see the light of day. It’s time to give ourselves a break and stop criticising ourselves. We wouldn’t talk about a friend in such disparaging terms so we shouldn’t use that language about ourselves either.

3. Equality beings at home

I recently visited a friend and she asked her eight-year-old daughter to make us a cup of tea. As I relaxed in the garden with my brew, it occurred to me that a boy of the same age probably wouldn’t know where to start making a cuppa and, in all likelihood, the workings of a kettle would be totally alien to him. Research by UNICEF found that globally, girls spend around 50 per cent more time on chores than their brothers, particularly in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. Preparing food and cleaning doesn’t build character, it just sets an unequal burden later in life and can limit girls’ outlook and potential. Yes, we need to encourage our girls to be strong women but we should also mollycoddle our boys less so that the burden of expectation is fairer.

4. Don’t try to do everything

As a working mum with two young children, it’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting to do everything. But you should never feel under pressure to multi-task. We can be so self-critical sometimes but nobody is ever going to tell you that doing everything is easy because it isn’t. There are only 24 hours in a day and if something has to give in the short-term then so be it. Women in executive positions in particular need to have a support network, whether that be family, friends or a mixture of the two. Otherwise, your health will suffer, relationships suffer – it’s no good for anyone.

5. Stop apologising!

Over-apologising all the time is a hard habit to break. Not only that, it can undermine your authority in the workplace and negatively impact relationships. Saying sorry when we have done something wrong is a strength – but over-apologising is a weakness. Be self-aware and log every time you say ‘sorry’ – often you won’t even realise you’re doing it. Think about the language you use. Instead of saying ‘sorry I can’t make it that day’ try ‘unfortunately’. Constantly using the ‘s’ word undermines both your confidence and the contribution you make.

Emma RobinsonAbout the author

Emma Robinson is founder and managing director at Red Diamond Executive Headhunters. The business has a global client portfolio and since it was founded more than a decade ago, Emma and her team have placed candidates into C-suite roles across the world in a wide range of industries, from aerospace and pharmaceuticals to health and beauty, defence and financial services.


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