On one side are the employees who suffer from the impostor syndrome, manifested by continuous fear that they are not good enough at what they do and at some point they will be unmasked. On the other side are the real impostors-employees.
Who are those impostors-employees and how can we identify them?
Impostors-employees are those who find all sorts of “tricks” to get rid of work. Here are some examples:
- They are at least 30 minutes late every day or leave earlier than others, finding each time another excuse in front of their managers. “Yesterday I spent the night in the office to finish that report, so today I slept a little longer to recover.” The manager is delighted by the “sacrifice” made by this great employee, without even asking whether he even stayed late in the office (there was no one to confirm). Moreover, the manager had not checked the difficulty of that report or the time required to do it nor the reasons wich led the employee to not finish it during working hours.
- He removes himself of his daily tasks, delegating them to other colleagues: „I have so much work to do – three reports, seven tasks with passed deadlines, two project launches and three client meetings, all today. I find it impossible to do this task too. I say it is better to give it to John who hasn’t done anything for few hours anyway. ” At the end of the day if you check the Basecamp hours of this „extremely busy” fellow you will be surprised to find out that he sent a mail, wrote a phrase in one task or finished a 30 minutes report. During the same time, his colleague John has worked without a break in 7 projects without complaining…
- When the boss shows up, the “impostor” is the busiest man in the company. He makes countless trips to the printer and back, walking with a stack of papers in hand, talking loudly on the phone and giving orders to others around him „I’ve told you 2 hours ago how to do this task!” He passes hastily by his boss office, greets him in a hurry, reminds him „how much work he has to do” and gives him a brief summary of his daily tasks.
- He is promoting himself loud and clear, whenever he has the chance. Whether it is a project or a client meeting, a quick encounter with the boss or a conversation with other colleagues, the „impostor” is the best self-promoter. Each phrase has to start, end or contain the word “I”. „I came last week, with this brilliant idea…”, „I explained it to Victor 7 times how to do it, but he never listens, he is very arrogant”, „If I wouldn’t have intervened in time, we would certainly had lost the client”, “Unlike the others, I really get involved in company’s problems.”
- In front of management, the „impostor” usually wears a mask – he is highly charismatic or wants to seem extremely intelligent, well-trained and loyal. Sometimes impostors use complex strategies, containing combinations of these features.
So when you have an employee who seems extremely charismatic, intelligent and loyal, who passionately devotes 24/7 to his work, you should ask yourself – is he real or is he a fraud?
Follow him closely for a few weeks, see how he behaves in his team, what he is really working on and how effective he is. If you find out that everything he does is just to impress you…it would be best to have a private conversation with him to remind him of the company’s values and the importance of team effort.
If indeed he is a charismatic person, loyal and intelligent and is constantly involved in company’s problems, then you should promote him, increase his salary and offer him the public recognition he deserves.
Have you ever met this kind of impostors among colleagues or employees? Leave a comment and tell me what behavior patterns were they using and how do you think this problem can be solved.