My name’s Kate and I was a self-saboteur.
Although really serious about my career, there always became a point where I would lose momentum. It wasn’t because I’d lost interest, it was because I doubted that I was good enough.
While my peers seemed to grow and climb the ladder with confidence, I was busy questioning if I was the right person for the role? Could my employer find someone else do my job better? It became a pattern; starting somewhere new and feeling good but then those niggling gremlins of self-doubt would begin to overtake me and I would resign.
My low self-esteem was sabotaging my career. My CV showed job changes every 12 months. I always loved what I did, I was just never reassured that I was good at it. That coupled with the fear of asking for a pay rise (what if they laugh? What if they tell me I am not good enough?) meant as soon as the honeymoon period of a new job was over, I was looking for the exit.
Luckily, in 2013, I joined a company that helped me break the cycle of self-sabotage and five years later I’m still there with absolutely no plans to leave.
So what changed? It was simply being able to have a conversation. Momentum Worldwide was the first place where I wasn’t afraid to show vulnerability and say ‘I don’t feel good enough’ and ask for feedback without fear of being fired.
In business there seems to be this culture that if you show vulnerability, you are weak. But everyone has doubts. Everyone has moments where they feel they aren’t good enough. This isn’t a fault – its basic human nature to seek validation. So why is it such a taboo in the work place? Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs explains human motivation in the simplest form, yet employers seem to only go as far as fulfilling the physiological needs of their employees; like rest breaks and maybe a free breakfast. The higher needs in Maslow’s triangle, such as belonging and esteem, are most often forgotten about and this creates a huge void in employee satisfaction.
Low self-esteem is not good for either party. It loses businesses great talent which costs time and money. And it loses employees the chance to progress and have a fulfilling career. If you’re constantly going back to being the new person, the gremlins of self-doubt begin to breed, creating the feeling of not being good enough all over again – it becomes career groundhog day.
Now I’m not saying that employees don’t have to take some responsibility for their own mental health. Self-esteem must initially come from within. But it should very much be supported and nurtured by employers because, after all, work is where people spend the best part of their week.
Companies should tackle imposter syndrome head-on by ensuring coaching is in the veins of the business. Mental health and employee satisfaction should be top of the agenda at board meetings and should be part of management appraisals. Management should be equipped with the skills and understanding to filter the ethos down to all levels ensuring that employee satisfaction is a priority from the bottom to the top. It also helps to have initiatives in place at peer-to-peer level that encourage colleagues to praise and support one another.My name’s Kate and I was a self-saboteur
Ultimately the culture of a business should be centered on building people up, not tearing them down. It’s hard enough out there as it is without the added fear of not being good enough. A little bit of praise can go a long way, add to that some personal development and I can guarantee you’ll not only have a team to be proud of but you’ll keep those gremlins of self-doubt at bay.
About the author
Kate Thrumble heads up the Talent (HR) team at Momentum UK. She is responsible for the full employee life cycle from attraction, retention and exit.
Kate joined Momentum Worldwide as a recruitment manager in 2013 and quickly moved into more generalist HR role to help shape and re-think the employee journey at the agency.
Working closely with Momentum Worldwide, Kate partnered on a number of global projects leading to greater cohesion and development of standards across many of the offices in terms of its people practices.
Prior to joining Momentum, Kate worked in house at Burberry and Hearst Magazines.