Where does confidence at work come from?

Managers and human resources and training people need people to be confident Fish jumpingat work.  Why?  Because confident people are much more likely to have a positive impact in the workplace.  Better decisions, reduced risks, greater focus and clarity, more flexibility and greater output all flow from having high levels of confidence.  By that I mean grounded confidence not under confidence or over confidence and arrogance.

So where does confidence come from?  It comes from a belief that certain things are going to happen and certain things are not going to happen.  If an organisation is constantly laying people off, confidence that “I’m not going to become a victim” evaporates. Management failure to reward and recognise achievement becomes confidence that it just does not matter how hard I work.  Seeing the people who achieve win promotions builds the belief that I too can do good work and be recognised for it.  At the heart of confidence lies a decision-making process that weighs up the likelihood of something happening either positively and negatively.

Most people have an inbuilt sense of fairness and can quickly point to things that they can describe as either fair or unfair.  Confidence that fair and reasonable decisions will be made by management will be built if management is seen to act fairly particularly in regard to people decisions.  Harsh punishments will destroy confidence and productivity is very likely to drop as a consequence.

Being sure about likely outcomes breeds confidence and as we all know confidence is very infectious as is timidity and anxiety.

If you want to build confidence amongst your people, here is a list of things that you could consider doing:

  • Provide confidence in the future wherever possible;
  • Train people to do their jobs well;
  • Reward achievement by some means or other;
  • Share positive customer feedback widely;
  • Emphasise “why” people’s work matters – what difference does it make to others?
  • If you have to cut staff – cut deep and once don’t make it an annual occurrence.

You’ll know that you have a confidence issue if you find that change is almost always resisted, people hold back and play it safe, there is too much wild risk taking (over confidence), there is confusion and that people withdraw from conversations about work.

Higher productivity and innovation rely heavily on people being confident that their work matters.  Management and human resources and training have a major bearing on how confident people are at work.

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