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8 Ways to Improve Self-Efficacy in the Workplace

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self-efficacy in the workplace

Remember how it felt to start a new job? When everything seemed foreign and out of reach? Learning a new job and acclimating to the systems, customers, processes, culture and specialized content can be overwhelming, and it usually takes at least six months to feel comfortable in a new position. But you don’t have to be new to a job to experience doubts about your own abilities. Even experienced employees can struggle with confidence and self-efficacy in the workplace. The imposter syndrome affects us all from time to time. Dealing with change and other stressors can negatively impact our mindset and work performance. There may be many different barriers to an employee’s belief in his or her ability to achieve or accomplish a task.

Here are 8 ways to improve our self-efficacy in the workplace:

1. Be aware:

First of all, it’s important to recognize that’s something is amiss. If you (or your boss) notice that work tasks are more difficult or that you are lacking confidence or making mistakes, it’s time to sit up and pay attention. Time to explore what’s going on and get to the root cause.

2. Take care:

It’s critical to take care of your physical and mental health on an ongoing basis. This includes taking a vacation, taking breaks, addressing burnout and preventing cynicism. Well-being can be measured in terms of one’s physical, emotional, intellectual, occupational, social, and spiritual (purposeful) state. Examine your practices in these areas and make adjustments to take better care.

3. Ask for help:

Do an assessment of your work performance and ask for support where needed. Review the job description and ask your boss for clarification, if necessary. Seek learning, watch videos, read articles, and attend training to boost your knowledge and skill level. If possible, choose role models or peers you’d like to emanate and watch how they do it.

4. Watch others:

Ask to sit in or shadow others who you think are successful. Conduct interviews about how they do what they do. When we see other people who are similar to us accomplish the task, it helps us to believe that we can do it, too. Seek encouragement and ask others to give you feedback and remind you of your skills and accomplishments. Try doing a task the way someone else does it and see if that works for you. Imitate a successful role model and compare how it feels and what you notice.

5. Focus on your strengths:

When we lack confidence, it’s easy to focus on what we don’t know or feel we can’t do. Flip those thoughts and focus on your strengths, make a list of what you do well. Take strength assessments and read about your competencies and preferences. Reminding yourself of your own strengths can help you find a new way to tackle those tasks that might be challenging you. Reflect on past successes and make a list of the times in your career when you felt capable and/or projects you were proud of. When we experience success on a task, or a small aspect of a task, it helps us believe that we can have success with more or other tasks. This is a great booster of self-efficacy in the workplace.

6. Visualize success:

See yourself doing the task or being successful. Write out a scene about you doing the task or reaching that goal, close your eyes and see yourself doing it, and imagine how you will feel afterwards. Talk about and verbally describe yourself doing it. Skip the steps that you are stuck on and move on to the ones you feel comfortable with. Teach someone else about what you know, teaching someone else reminds us how much we actually can do.

7. Take time:

Use time management techniques and block out time to achieve tasks, refresh your habits for getting work done. Sometimes it’s your process that needs tweaking to unblock access to your capabilities and confidence. Having success on a small item on your list can help you experience accomplishment and build positive momentum.

8. Get creative:

Try something new, such as a new schedule, a new way of getting to work, even new supplies can unblock and inspire us. Without knowing it, we can get stuck in many kinds of ruts, and our thinking may also get stuck. Try changing what you can: move the computer, sit facing a new direction, because even a temporary change can get us thinking a new way and help us see a new solution.

Sustaining self-efficacy in the workplace is a constant journey throughout our careers. Like any long-term journey, it requires ongoing updates and maintenance.

About the Author:

 Toni Halleen is the co-owner and COO of Schaefer Halleen LLC, a Minneapolis-based employment law firm. Toni has practiced employment law since graduating from law school in 1988. The field appeals to her because in our society, our jobs can be core to our identity and well-being. Toni endeavors to bring a balanced perspective to each case and utilizes creative problem solving to arrive at a favorable outcome for her clients.

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