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082 | 3 tips to tackle a challenge at work when you aren’t feeling confident
Episode 8228th April 2023 • HR Coffee Time • Fay Wallis
00:00:00 00:15:52

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A lack of confidence can stop us from tackling all sorts of challenges at work. Maybe it's holding you back from putting your ideas forward for a new initiative, or preventing you from creating and presenting an HR or People strategy for the first time, or stopping you from challenging someone at work when you disagree with them, or you can't bring yourself to speak up in meetings.

Whatever your challenge is - this episode of HR Coffee Time is here to help. In it, career & executive coach Fay Wallis shares 3 tips to tackle a challenge at work when you aren't feeling confident:

  1. Creating a vision board
  2. Adopting a test-and-learn approach
  3. Using affirmations

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Welcome to HR Coffee Time. It's great to have you here. I'm your host, Fay Wallis, a career and executive coach with a background in HR, and I'm also the founder of Bright Sky Career Coaching. I've made HR Coffee Time especially for you to help you have a successful and fulfilling HR and People career without working yourself into the ground.

I just wanted to take a moment to say a huge and heartfelt thank you to you for listening to the podcast every week for rating and reviewing it, for recommending it to your friends and colleagues for talking about it with other people, because incredibly, I found out last weekend that it got to the number two spot in the Apple UK Careers podcast chart, which is just the most amazing feeling and reassures me that you are enjoying the show and finding it helpful.

So thank you so much for your support, and I really hope that you're going to enjoy today's episode as well. In this episode, I'll be sharing three tips to tackle a challenge at work when you aren't feeling confident in yourself, because confidence is one of the biggest things that can hold us back with our careers, and I don't want it to be holding you back. The way not feeling confident shows up will be different for all of us.

But to give you an idea of what I mean, some of the many challenges I've helped my coaching clients tackle because they weren't feeling confident include: putting their ideas forward for a new initiative at work, creating and presenting an HR or People strategy for the first time, challenging someone at work when they disagree with them, speaking up confidently in meetings and being confident about managing or leading well for the first time. I've covered confidence on the podcast a few times before, so you also might find those episodes helpful to listen as well because they've got different tips and different kinds of advice. I'll link to them in the show notes for you, and I'll also share the names of all of them with you at the end of this episode.

But for now, let's crack on with the main part of the show and whatever challenge at work you'd like to tackle. I hope the tips today will help you feel more confident if you decide to give them a try and put them into action. As with everything I share on HR Coffee Time, I know there is never one thing that works for everyone because we're all different.

So by sharing the three different tips today, I hope that at least one of them is something you're going to feel excited about trying or that sparks a different idea that you know will work brilliantly for you. They're all ones that I've tried myself and also ones that I've seen my clients have success with.

And the first tip is to create a vision board. Now, if you are anything like I was when I first heard about vision boards, you might be rolling your eyes and thinking, "what's a ridiculous suggestion - this all sounds a bit pie in the sky thinking, instead of being sensible and practical, but please bear with me.

I've become far more open-minded about this idea since I've tried it out myself, and I've also seen it work well for some of my clients. Of course, you might never have heard of vision boards and be wondering what an earth I'm talking about, so I'll just quickly explain what they are and how to create one.

Creating a vision board is a way of representing your goals for the future through pictures and images. All you have to do is get a large piece of paper or card - flipchart sized is ideal because that's a nice big size. And then stick onto it lots of images and pictures. Well, images and pictures are the same thing, aren't they?

That represent where and how you would like your life and career to be. It can be really helpful to set yourself a time that you are aiming for, so where you'd like to be in a year's time, or two years time, or even five years time. You can find the pictures by just cutting them out of magazines and sticking them on there.

Or you can search for the pictures that feel right online, print them off and stick them onto the paper. Of course, if you're very artistic, you could always try drawing things yourself. Sadly, I am not very artistic, so it's definitely the magazines or printing off pictures online that works for me. But once you have your vision board set up, you then put it somewhere prominent where you can see it every day.

That means that creating the vision board and having it somewhere you can see it all the time- you are putting in place a great way of not only getting clear on what it is you are aiming for and what's important to you, but also having it somewhere you see it every day. It helps you keep those goals in mind.

So many of us never take the time to write down our goals. I do write down my goals, as you probably know, because I put them in the HR Planner, but I've definitely been guilty of not writing down goals in the past or writing them down, and then they end up getting tucked away in a drawer somewhere and completely forgotten about.

So, If that's you, then please don't feel bad about it at all. And actually a vision board might work much better for you than written goals. Because once you've got that vision board and it's somewhere that you can see, you've got it in mind every time you look at it, it can then help motivate you to move forwards and give you that confidence, that motivation, that bravery that you need to be able to take action and start addressing the challenge that you're a bit scared about at work or just haven't had the confidence to tackle. I think if we've really got in mind where it is we're heading, that can help pull ourselves up and move forwards. Because without a vision board or without having thought clearly about what's important to you and what you are aiming for, it's much easier to leave yourself just drifting along or trying to play it really safe and not stretching yourself and not pushing yourself forward and addressing the stuff that feels a little bit scary or a little bit challenging.

The second tip is to get rid of the idea that you need to be perfect by using a test and learn approach to your challenge at work.

Now, if you are signed up to receive my free HR Coffee Time emails, this will sound familiar because I wrote about it recently a couple of weeks ago. If your confidence is being affected because you put yourself under pressure to create work that is perfect, or you put yourself under pressure to be perfect yourself, the test and learn approach can be incredibly helpful.

The problem with perfectionism is we often don't realize when we are perfectionists. I certainly never used to think of myself as a perfectionist because I used to think, no, I just have really high standards, and I'm just trying really hard to hit them. But actually, I don't feel like I'm ever quite hitting them as high as I'd like to or as well as I'd like to.

And I think I thought, oh, perfectionists, they have to be people who really have got everything perfect and they're super organized, but really, although perfectionism can turn up like that often it's the people who are working phenomenally hard but quite self-critical. That's often a sign that perfectionism may be one of your challenges, and it's something that I've definitely tried to address quite a lot because I know life is much better when perfectionism doesn't take over. And there's a great quote from Liz Fosslien and Molly West Duffy, who have written a couple of books that I really like. This quote is from their book, "Big Feelings". They say "Perfectionism doesn't make you feel perfect, it makes you feel inadequate." and of course, if we're feeling inadequate, that definitely can have a knock on effect on our confidence.

And it can make you hold yourself back at work and hold yourself back from addressing challenges because you are scared that you are not going to get it perfect. So if you are holding yourself back until you feel more confident that what you're putting out into the world is going to be of the highest possible standard, you are at this big risk of never being able to recognize what you've achieved or never fully building up your confidence and resilience at work.

So instead of feeling like you need to have all the answers for things, or waiting until your ideas are absolutely perfect, instead with the test and learn approach, you put your idea out into the world. Explain that you are testing this idea so that you can refine it and improve upon it and ask for feedback.

in next year's HR Planner for:

Taking away that pressure that I used to put on myself, that I can't put something else in the world until it's perfect, has really, really helped because actually things are probably going to be so much better. They are always going to be so much better if you've asked for feedback and people tend to be far more bought into your ideas.

If you have approached them for feedback. You can use this for almost anything in your workplace as long as you are communicating the fact that you are taking a test and learn approach, people are normally really happy to help and they will be far more bought into your ideas if they can see you've taken their feedback on board.

It helps give them a sense of ownership of things as well to really feel that they've been heard and they've been able to have an impact. So, for example, imagine you have to create a new People strategy for the first time instead of spending hours and hours getting it perfect, talk through some initial ideas you have about it with the senior leadership team and your own people team, and ask for their input.

Everyone is just so much more likely to be excited about it when they can see that they have had a chance to contribute.

And that brings us onto my final tip for this episode, which is to try using affirmations. I haven't used affirmations for a while, but I found them incredibly helpful when I was going through a tough time in one of my previous HR roles and I was doubting myself. Someone at the time recommended I listened to a CD by Louise Hay called, "I Can Do It".

It's a series of affirmations read out loud, and I'm showing how long ago this was by the fact I was listening to a CD because of course nowadays we'd just be listening on our phones instead. I found it really helpful at putting myself in a more positive and confident frame of mind. Affirmations, if you haven't come across them before, they are just short statements that you say out loud to yourself.

They're there to counteract the negative things we often say to ourselves. So things like "You might be wrong", "You are always getting things wrong". Or, "What if you make a mistake?" Or, "What if they laugh at you?" Or all those things that we have running around in our head that are really negative and not helpful at all.

So the idea with affirmations is that it counteracts that negative self-talk and they help build up our self-belief and our confidence. I've had some clients find them incredibly helpful, and I've even had people use them as their screensaver on their computer so that not only do they say the message to themselves, they see the phrase constantly throughout the day whenever they look at their screensaver.

Or I've had other people stick up post-it notes around their desk with the phrase written on it so they can look at it and give themselves a confidence boost when they're about to tackle their challenge at work. And to help bring this to life a little bit here are some example affirmations if you wanted to feel more confident about speaking up in meetings, you might repeat to yourself something like, "I can speak up", or, "My opinions and thoughts are valid".

Or, "I have something important to say and contribute". And with so many things, there's evidence to show that they do work. And there's also evidence to show that they don't always work. So with all of these things, I'm sharing them with you just as ideas to try and see how you get on with them.

But let's wrap up with a quick reminder of what those three things were.

The first one was to try creating a vision board, because that can be good at reminding you why and how tackling these challenges are worthwhile because it means you'll be moving forwards towards your goals and what you want for your life and career, which can be very, very motivating. The second thing was to use the test and learn approach, which is particularly helpful if you've got perfectionist tendencies or you find yourself having a real fear of failure.

And then finally, we just looked at having affirmations, which can be a great way of drowning out the negative messages we sometimes tell ourselves. And building up our self-belief and confidence.

The other podcast episodes that I promised I would mention at the end of today's episode that you might want to dip into if confidence is something you really want to work on at the moment, are episode one, "How to Feel More Confident at Work", episode 36, "Four, simple but powerful techniques to banish imposter syndrome, with Joanna Lott" and episode 73. "Five ways to feel more confident in your next interview, meeting, or presentation". Episode 73 in particular looks at handling the physical response you might have when you're not feeling confident. So if you find your voice gets shaky or you start sweating or you panic, then anything physical that's happening, you might find that episode really helpful.

If you've enjoyed today's episode, please can I ask you for a small favour? I'd be hugely grateful if you could do two things for me. Firstly, if you could share the podcast with a friend who you think will find it interesting and useful, that would be brilliant. And secondly, if you could rate and review HR Coffee Time for me on Apple Podcasts or Spotify, that would be wonderful.

It makes such a difference in helping the show get discovered by more people. And I would love to help as many HR and People professionals as possible with this free podcast. Thank you so much and I look forward to being back again next Friday with the next episode.




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