Work isn’t a place where a lot of us naturally thrive. There seem to be a lot of things outside our control, and that leaves us feeling powerless and vulnerable. Some of the worst moments in my life have been experienced at work. Blood pressure at insane levels… 225/125.
I should have been dead.
So I went to a great counselor and got advice to stay alive. The bits of advice are as follow, and in a kind of “staying alive”:
1. Analyse the situation.
If you have no power to change it, and it is grinding you into dust, get out. Then you can find a better environment and use some of the tips below to rebuild your self-confidence.
2. If you DO have some power to change the situation, then read on!
3. Take Action No-one Expects
When you are an employee, you have 2 weapons to make your workplace a great place to be: what you achieve, and How you go about doing it. The first is pretty understandable. I get given things to do and I do them. Fairly obvious.
How you do them, may not be quite so obvious. And this is where the magic happens. By doing a few things differently you will “own your space”, and the positive reactions people in management have towards you will boost your self-confidence. Mind you, if you do the things I’m going to tell you about, you won’t really need the boosts.
Here they are:
1. If you see some process happening which is wrong or inefficient, figure out why it’s happening and what needs to be done to fix it.
You might say, well that’s not my job. and that is exactly the point! No-one owns fixing it!
But if you analyse, find out why it’s not working and go to your manager and say “this has been broken for ages. It has this negative effect. I know why it’s broken and what needs to be done to fix it. I want your support to solve it.”
2. Present your plan for how to fix it.
Your manager may have a coronary, but once recovered, there’s a 98.45% chance they will be delighted to give you the chance to fix it. Your kudos stones (the little round ones) have just multiplied 10-fold!
When you lay out your plan, you include the steps to be taken, who you will need to help, exactly what needs to change and the timeline. Put it on a Gantt chart. If you don’t know what this is, look it up. It makes you look like a professional problem solver like nothing else can.
3. Confirm you have the boss’s support and that nothing will change that.
You don’t want to be left high and dry because priorities change.
4. Execute the plan.
Brief everyone involved, set regular meetings and keep people on track to complete the work.
And just in case you were thinking you have to be a manager to do something like this, in 1995 a lovely lady called Beverley who was on reception in the company I was with, completely transformed the way our entire business handled phone calls and client interaction.
At the start of the process, she was scared shitless, but she wasn’t when she was presented with a special Excellence In Customer Care award in front of everyone by the CEO a few months later.
She went from a frightened, servile person on reception to a self-confident, powerful woman on reception. With her award on the wall behind her.
In short, here are the takeaways:
- Own your space. Look around and see what you can improve.
- If you’re out beyond your comfort zone, breathe.
- Pick something big enough to matter and small enough to achieve.
- It won’t always be plain sailing, so learn this very valuable tool: Respond, don’t React!
- Remember to take others with you – they are just as keen to feel more confident at work as you are! They are your secret army.
You’ll note I haven’t gone down the therapy route, or mind-games path. The best way to increase your self-confidence is to DO things you can be happy about and gain the satisfaction that comes with achievement.
And the more you achieve, the better you’ll feel about yourself, and the more you’ll achieve.
My second and most incredible example. Back in 1987, I dated a woman I shall call Brian (for that is NOT her real name) in Christchurch. She was divorced with a very little boy. She left school at 16.
She was a waitress when I met her. She had zero self-confidence. Couldn’t even take on a supervisory role.
I helped her think about herself differently. And told her exactly what I am telling you. Own your space.
I just checked on her now, for the first time in probably 25 years. She completed a degree with honours in Christchurch and is now living in London working as senior manager in a multinational company.
Not bad for a solo mother on the “benefit” who left school at 16.
Self-confidence is (as the name implies) yours to grow. No-one else’s. You can give your self-confidence away, but other people cannot give you self-confidence. Only you can grow it.
Remember Beverly and Brian. If they can do it you can too.
You might like to check out our online course called How to Crush Your Self-Evaluation (click here!). It covers owning your space at work.