In my latest Weekend Poll, I asked readers to discuss your career confidence and resilience.
Confident career assistants
Studies have shown that a significant percentage of people are lacking in self confidence, but that’s not the case with the majority of readers who responded to my latest Weekend Poll. Given a scale from 1 (low confidence) to 5 (very confident), a whopping 42% of respondents assigned themselves a confidence rating of 5. Another 38% assigned a rating of 4, meaning that 80% of respondents are approaching their careers with a comfortable degree of confidence. Perhaps that’s reflective of the focus these readers have on professional development.
On the job resilience is also generally high
In fact, the same overall percentage of respondents (80%) were able to give either a 4 or 5 (very strong) out of 5 rating when it came to your on the job resilience. 29% of you assigned a rating of 5, and 51% assigned ratings of 4.
6% of respondents reported dealing with low levels of confidence, assigning ratings of 2 out of 5. When it comes to low levels of resilience, the percentage of readers who assigned themselves a 2 out of 5 rating doubled to 12%.
What impacts your confidence in the office?
It depends. When it comes to adverse impacts on assistants’ confidence, 50% of respondents said their own mistakes are most likely to have a negative impact. Next on the list? Your principals, aka your bosses.
It’s clear that the working relationship with one’s principal is key, since 29% of respondents said that your principals are most likely to have a positive impact on your confidence at work. The factor most likely to have a positive impact on your confidence at work, however, is the knowledge that you’ve done a good job. That’s the case for 39% of respondents, who said you don’t need external validation.
How to build and maintain your resilience?
Readers were generous with suggestions on both fronts, and with their approaches to maintaining confidence at work – or restoring it after a disappointment or setback. You’ll find all the data below.
Note: Information below reflects the percentage of respondents who selected specific responses from multiple choice options. In instances where more than one person offers similar responses to an open ended question, I typically cluster or paraphrase such responses rather than duplicating all of them.
On a scale of 1 (low ) to 5, how confident in your career are you ?
- 5 out of 5 (very confident): 42% of respondents
- 4 out of 5: 38% of respondents
- 3 out of 5: 14% of respondents
- 2 out of 5: 6% of respondents
- 1 out of 5 (low confidence): 0% of respondents
On a scale of 1 (low ) to 5, how would you rate your on the job resilience?
- 5 out of 5 (very strong): 29% of respondents
- 4 out of 5: 51% of respondents
- 3 out of 5: 8% of respondents
- 2 out of 5: 12% of respondents
- 1 out of 5 (low): 0% of respondents
Were you already familiar with the term, “Imposter Syndrome”?
- Yes: 67% of respondents:
- No: 33% of respondents:
Do you think of yourself as dealing with Imposter Syndrome?
- Yes: 22% of respondents
- No: 36% of respondents
- Occasionally: 42% of respondents
Which is most likely to have a NEGATIVE impact on your confidence at work?
- My mistakes: 50% of respondents
- My principal (boss): 23% of respondents
- Other colleagues: 13% of respondents
- Performance evaluations/feedback: 0% of respondents
- N/A; I don’t let these factors impact my confidence: 14% of respondents
Which is most likely to have a POSITIVE impact on your confidence at work?
- My principal (boss): 29% of respondents
- Performance evaluations/feedback: 22% of respondents
- Other colleagues: 10% of respondent
- Knowing for myself that I’ve done a good job – I don’t need external validation: 39% of respondents
Next, I asked readers to briefly outline measures you take to maintain/restore your confidence at work. Here’s what you said.
- Lots of self development, positive affirmations, not to take everything personally, peer networking group, ensure I know my tasks inside out, keep updated with technology and new developments, embrace change….
- I keep my promises, deliver top quality work and constantly work on my own development
- (I ask myself:) Do I feel like I worked to the best of my ability? Am I sought out as an adviser to others or as a person knowing how to perform tasks or get things done? Did I accomplish what I wanted to get done for the day/week/month? Am I viewed as a collaborator? Did I take steps to learn or improve skills and abilities that needed improvement? Am I current in my industry knowledge?
- Don’t compare yourself with others
- Invest time/energy/resources in professional development / Continuous learning, networking, personal and professional development / I take all opportunities to learn something whenever possible and use it to make the best possible informed decisions / Learn on a daily basis / Reading and speaking to others about the tools they use / Always focus on my own personal development
- Start every day with a positive “can-do” attitude / Positive self-talk at the end of a particularly stressful day / Congratulating myself for a day where I’ve accomplished everything I set out to do / Reflect on my achievements / I keep thank you correspondence (cards, letters, emails) that I’ve received over the years. When I’m particularly discouraged, I re-read them. / Being positive instead of focusing on the negative, especially when morale is low
- Reviewing my progress over the year, realizing I have done 90% of my job well and every one makes mistakes / I tell myself that my mistakes do not define who I am or how qualified I am for this role. I also tell myself mistakes usually mean you are stretching yourself and that’s always good. / Stay focused on moving forward, not dwelling on the mistakes / It’s ok to make mistakes / Don’t give myself a hard time when I make a mistakeEveryone makes mistakes that’s what makes us human
- I always double check my work / I do my homework / I always review my work to catch mistakes before they go out to the manager/client
- Be realistic and objective when self-assessing
- I have been working for my boss a long time. I am certified – as an Administrative Professional, Legal Secretary, Legal Assistant, and Paralegal (yes, 4 certifications), all gained before my college degree – Administrative Professional Associate degree. I did admin work for many years before the legal field. I know my skills are proficient and many of my tasks are done over and over. If I make a mistake, I try to learn from that so it doesn’t occur again. Basically, I KNOW my job.
- I do everything I can to be one step ahead of my executives
- I stay at work late and come in early
- I ask for feedback and act on it / I ask for feedback after projects and am not afraid to ask for help
- Express interest in the careers of my colleagues
- Be proactive and work on projects before being asked, which garners recognition for getting things done, being on the ball and taking initiative / Plan ahead
- Continuous personal development / Personal development outside the work environment – self-paced training, reading, fellowship with friends / I listen to podcasts — Hidden Brain, TED Radio Hour, Freakonomics Radio, Stay Tuned — these keep me informed and remind me of the greater world beyond my own, which helps put things into perspective.
- Continuous communication with my boss and team / Maintain open lines of communication / I welcome feedback from my bosses
- Surround myself with positive people who are also able to give me constructive feedback / Talk to trusted supporters / (Maintain) strong internal and external EA networks / Discussions with mentors
- Record successes / Have faith in yourself and what you’ve accomplished, big or small / Believe in myself and my abilities. Never let anyone tell me that I am not good enough. / I keep a log of my “wins” – mostly the big wins – or the small achievements. As I am a temp I have never had a performance evaluation; no one has been able to tell me I’m doing a good job, so I have to remind myself of what went well. My family play a huge part in boosting my professional confidence by reminding me of times when I’ve gone above and beyond.
- Take time to examine the facts / Figuring out where I went wrong and learning from it
- Do my best / Be effective / I always genuinely aim to do my best and continuously grow my skills and learn from mistakes. I pride myself in my ability to see ahead and put measures in place that will make things easier or smoother when obstacles arise down the line. I get a lot of positive feedback about my ability to do this because it tends to have a huge impact on how things play out for others at work but, personally, just knowing that I am putting in a solid effort and doing what is expected of me at minimum helps me to feel positive about myself and my ability to add value.
- I try not to get too emotional (e.g., dwelling on a mistake, reacting defensively when receiving constructive feedback, etc.) about work issues.
Lastly, I asked readers to briefly outline measures you take to maintain/build your resilience at work. Here’s what you said.
- Self-care, organization, focus on increasing my productivity
- Remember to not take things personally / Understanding where I have control, and not worrying about this things out of that control / Realize that I can only do so much / Bounce back; try not to take things personally / Go back and try harder and smarter; correct mistakes, and don’t make them twice
- Be assertive but pleasant at the same time. Speak up, ask questions & and be kind.
- Seeking and listening to mentors and advisers / Peer support / Network with others in the industry to build a reputation
- Keep improving my skills and techniques / Making efforts to stay current in the industry, technology, the competition / Continuing education / Work outside my comfort zone; push myself
- Debrief, learn and change / Look at what I could have done better; treat each demoralizing event as a learning (opportunity) / Learning! / Attend training opportunities that reteach, retrain, and reevaluate how I do my work / Read ongoing technology in my field / Take the occasional class to keep my skills up / Keep trying; never give up / Practicing progressively more difficult tasks in regularly used programs
- Take a deep breath and step back from the situation to see it from different angles to get a sense of how others may perceive and broaden my brush for the next time / I know we are all human and no one is perfect. If something doesn’t go as planned, I step back and evaluate what I could have done differently to improve future outcomes.
- I also ask for feedback/advice from my execs to see where I can actively improve my performance and avoid similar situations in the future / Have open and honest discussions with my execs; admit to errors and seek feedback / Focus on being a good listener
- Focus on first doing what is most important, finish one thing at a time and ask for help if I start to feel overwhelmed
- … My partner is my go to person for boosting my resilience and my confidence.
- Have faith in yourself / KNOWING that I know what I am doing … after doing it for SO long – 29 years.
- Plan ahead
- Ensure I eat and sleep well, go outside regularly, take breaks / I meditate daily and exercise / Breathing techniques and also reassuring myself that I am doing a great job
- When I manage my reactions/emotions, then it is much easier for me to refocus on accomplishing my work tasks/projects / I tell myself that my mistakes do not define who I am or how qualified I am for this role. I also tell myself mistakes usually mean you are stretching yourself and that’s always good.
- Self-belief / Believe in what I do, no matter what … (it) doesn’t matter what happens; (I) always believe in my abilities
- Schedule time for important re-centering tasks: walk, meditate, call a friend, review a folder containing notes of congratulations/recognition, read on a favourite topic / Maintaining a good balance is very important … I need to get away from my desk periodically if for no other reason than to stretch my legs and get my blood circulating again … When I do find myself really frustrated at work … (or find it) impossible to focus on deep work, get into flow state, etc., self- talk can be very soothing … I remind myself this is temporary pain for long term gain.
- Avoid teams of colleagues who don’t share my standards of service delivery and quality work product / Don’t let others’ opinions get to you / Reminding myself to keep the focus on my own job and not let my coworkers irritate me or negatively impact my morale and motivation
- I listen to podcasts – Hidden Brain, TED Radio Hour, Freakonomics Radio, Stay Tuned – these keep me informed and remind me of the greater world beyond my own which helps put things into perspective. When things are in their proper perspective, I can bounce back from just about anything.