Confidence in the workplace: What does it mean?

Posted on 08.24.15

Confidence in the workplace: What does it mean?

By Lauren Andrews, Human Resources Manager

It occurred to me during Keiter’s past performance review season that a common piece of feedback from auditing and tax managers to supervisors and associate level team members is to “have more confidence.”

It sounds simple enough, but in reality, what does it mean for someone to “have confidence”? Are they loud? Are they definitive? Do others feel comfortable in their decision making skills? Is it all of the above?

As the manager or supervisor providing feedback on a team member’s confidence level, keep in mind the following:

  • To truly help your colleague understand what it means to have confidence, be very clear in your direction and expectations

Be purposeful about the type of behavior you expect instead of hiding under the “confidence” umbrella

  • Confidence can be assertion in ideas and clear and effective communication
  • Confidence can be overall presence in any given situation or decision making process – being visible, available, and a driving force
  • Achieving a certain level of competence, can also result in professional confidence

The person receiving the direction to be “more confident” should consider the following:

  • Ask where you’re missing the mark.
    • Are poor communication skills causing doubt in others about your capabilities?
    • Do colleagues hesitate to share or assign work to you, unsure if your competence level is satisfactory?
    • As with any feedback, ask more questions to get down to the root of the behaviors that need to be addressed.
  • Make a plan to be mindful about those behaviors and continue to ask for feedback from a manager or trusted peer to make sure you’re on the right track.

If a lack of confidence truly does come from a place of discomfort – either not understanding how to do the work or how to be effective – make sure you uncover that as well. It doesn’t benefit any one to flounder or “spin their wheels”. Simply sending up the flare that there is a misunderstanding or lack of knowledge shows confidence in itself.

If managers and supervisors provide a clear definition of workplace confidence and subordinates make a proactive plan for improvement, progress can be made in confidence building in the workplace.

Posted by: Lauren Andrews