Office Dynamics In The Jungle

This week, I ran across two articles that are good fodder for The Office or Office Space (or most of our lives).

The first one dealt with imposter syndrome. The article states that [i]t’s estimated that 70% of people have imposter syndrome—the feeling that they don’t deserve to be where they are in life. 

The author linked to an imposter syndrome test for everyone to test their own inner imposters. A score of 80 or higher shows an intense feeling of imposter syndrome, 61 to 80 shows frequent experience, and 41 to 60 shows moderate experience. 

The silver lining is that [t]here is evidence to suggest that imposter syndrome correlates with success—and that those who don’t suffer imposter symptom are more likely to be the real frauds. People with imposter syndrome tend to be perfectionists, which means they’re likely to spend hours working overtime to make sure they excel in every single field. So if you do suffer from imposter syndrome, chances are you’re doing a pretty good job. Although imposter syndrome has some benefits, such as driving people to work harder, it can also lead to burnout and should not be considered a desirable condition.

Couple this with being a go-getter (likely encompasses many "imposters"), and you've got a fairly negative melting pot.

A paper by a team of researchers from Duke University, University of Georgia, and University of Colorado look[ed]... how extremely competent people are treated by their co-workers and peers. To begin, the researchers began by establishing that people do, in fact, assign more tasks to those they perceived as more competent. A separate experiment found that participants not only assigned more tasks to the go-getters—but underestimated how much work it would take to get the job done. 

The researchers then tried to understand how these expectations play out in real life. In a survey of more than 400 employees, they found that high performers were not only aware that they were giving more at work—they rightly assumed that their managers and co-workers didn’t understand how hard it was for them, and thus felt unhappy about being given more tasks.

The researchers concluded that [i]n the workplace, managers should be careful to give the highest quality work and best opportunities to the most capable employees, and give the lower quality but time consuming work to less capable employees,” says Koval. “If someone is doing more than his fair share, compensate him for it. If not, he may ultimately leave and seek recognition elsewhere. Similarly, in our personal relationships, we should recognize that just because our high-ability partners can do something for us, doesn’t mean that we should let them. And if they do help us, we should recognize it and thank them for it. Otherwise, they too may end up feeling burdened by us, and less satisfied—and that should be the last thing we want to do to a good employee or a good partner.

It may be true that a little self doubt will help propel you forward. But too much can be crippling. Additionally, being seen as competent can be a good thing so long as those around you are not taking advantage of it. These types of articles help me to understand the office dynamic in a way that I may have otherwise overlooked. It's a jungle out there!

Oh, and happy Groundhog Day! (Bill Murray style).


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