Finding Your Confidence in the Workplace

Managed by Q
February 4, 2020

Whether you’re starting your first job, learning new skills, or trying to adjust to a different office culture, self-confidence is key. We’ve partnered with the Newsette to answer their readers’ toughest questions about how to show up to work prepared—and with confidence.

I just got hired for a new job, which is a few steps above my previous position in terms of seniority, and I am feeling seriously out of my league. I know that they wouldn’t have hired me if they didn’t believe that I was capable, but I can’t help but feel like I don’t know what I’m doing!

Feeling out of your depth in a professional setting is unnerving—you want to do the best work you can, but might hold back or be distracted by insecurity. The important thing to keep in mind is that the learning curve is real and exists for everyone. Your colleagues understand that you’ll need time to ramp up, adjust, and begin to contribute. Depending on the nature of your work and your role, it could take someone six months or more to achieve this!

Many managers create 30-, 60-, and 90-day plans for new employees. If your manager does this, focus on hitting those milestones and completing those projects as tangible progress towards getting up to speed. If your manager hasn’t done this, create one for yourself! (This book is a helpful resource for doing so.) This is a great way to approach your new position in terms of your strengths and areas of growth, rather than focusing on what you don’t know.

If you’re still feeling unsettled, don’t be afraid to ask your colleagues questions! Tap into the resources around you, ask coworkers for coffee to pick their brains, and look for events that relate to your job. You’re in a great phase of learning. Don’t be too hard on yourself and embrace it!

I am in my first post-grad job and am the youngest in my office by ~10 years. The age difference makes me feel insecure and doubt my place here at times because I can’t relate to talking topics since I'm at a different place in life. Do you have any tips for overcoming these insecurities?

Being the youngest person at your job can feel alienating—especially if you’re struggling to feel taken seriously. But while age is a characteristic, it’s not the defining quality of your or your coworkers.

One advantage you have as a recent graduate is understanding a younger customer demographic. Depending on what your company does, your insight into how the business will need to adapt to connect with a new generation of customers could be invaluable. This is an opportunity to share your knowledge in conversation with coworkers or in meetings.

And remember, the people you work with have all started out in the same position as you—young and at their first job! If you find it difficult to make conversation or relate, ask your colleagues about their careers: What did they study in college?  Where was their first job? What was the office culture like at those other companies? What helped them find their career trajectory?

Starting these kinds of conversations opens the door to advice, provides a better understanding of the people around you, and reminds you that everyone had to begin somewhere.

I work in a collaborative environment and want to share my ideas, but I’m naturally really shy. When others share ideas that are similar to the ones I had (but didn't voice) in meetings, I feel frustrated that I didn’t speak up. I’m worried that my shyness is holding me back from growing and advancing in my company. 

Participation equity in meetings can be a huge issue at work. Meetings are often dominated by the most senior person or the loudest voice in the room. If you’re shy, meetings can be particularly debilitating.

Start to build up your level of comfort in meetings with some light preparation. Write out brief talking points, questions, or reactions you have to what is on the agenda for the meeting. This way, you’ll be able to process some of your thoughts in advance. Bring those notes to the meeting as a guide and reference so when it’s your turn to speak, you won’t have to think everything out on the fly.

You can also set a personal goal of speaking once per meeting. This can be as minor as helping to troubleshoot a conference call issue or agreeing with someone else’s point. Over time this will make you feel more comfortable speaking up!

If you’re finding that the meetings you’re in are unproductive and very difficult to interact in, Managed by Q created guidelines for how to run more effective, communicative meetings.


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