Impostor Syndrome When Getting Promoted

Impostor syndrome is a feeling of inadequacy. It is the sense that you are not qualified or talented enough to do your job. In many cases it’s a feeling that you can’t live up to the expectations of a job because you are a fraud. It was first identified by Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes in a paper in 1978. At first they thought it only affected women but further research indicates it affects people no matter their gender.

While affecting everyone slightly differently, Valerie Young has identified a few patterns that people tend to fall into with impostor syndrome. The perfectionist sets very high standards for themselves and if they don’t meet them feels like a failure. The expert feels like they should know every little thing before being competent. A person who is naturally gifted will feel inadequate if they struggle to learn or do something. The soloist feel that they have to do everything on their own, they are a fraud for asking for help. Finally the superhuman will push themselves harder than their coworkers to prove they are not an impostor.

Typically impostor syndrome rears itself when a person is put into novel situations or given more difficult tasks than normal. For most of us some of the most stressful times in our careers comes with celebration. We get promoted then have to take on new duties and responsibilities. This can lead to stress, anxiety, and impostor syndrome.

Impostor syndrome is something that we all face at one time or another in our careers. Many of us face it several times as we move up the ladder. This is not a comprehensive list of fears or concerns. They are the ones that we have heard about from others or have faced during our careers. If you have other concerns or questions about moving up in your career leave us a comment or send us an email about it.

Episode Breakdown

Common Impostor Syndrome Concerns When Getting Promoted

  • What if I don’t find a good role model or mentor?
  • I’m not good enough, what I do isn’t perfect.
  • I like being “in the weeds” on a project, but moving up means I’ll have to take a more general focus.
  • I’m not good a taking on new responsibilities.

Impostor Syndrome Concerns with Starting As A Junior

  • I do not know enough about coding or the business to be useful.
  • I don’t really know where I want to focus my career or how I want to brand myself as a developer.
  • I’m afraid I’ll mess up the existing codebase because I’ve only ever worked on my own code.
  • Coding is fun, but what if I don’t like doing it as a career?

Impostor Syndrome Concerns with Moving to Mid-Level

  • I’m not going to get as much mentoring or support.
  • What if I am overwhelmed by the amount of work.
  • How will I keep up with changes in technology?
  • Am I trying to make changes or move up too quickly?

Impostor Syndrome Concerns with Moving to Senior

  • What if I’m not ready to be a mentor?
  • I’m not longer the learner, I don’t know enough to be an expert.
  • I’m afraid to ask questions or appear unknowledgeable.

Impostor Syndrome Concerns with Moving to Management

  • I’m an expert, not a manager.
  • How do I manage others while still actually working?
  • Now I’m managing friends and former peers.
  • I don’t know how to give direct feedback.

Book Club

Remote Work – The Complete Guide

Will Gant

Chapter 6 – Mitigating the downsides of remote work It’s not all sweetness and light. Remote work has its issues and you are going to have to overcome them if you want to remain physically, mentally, and financially healthy while working remotely over the long term. In this chapter, Will discusses a variety of things that can present problems for remote workers, as well as some ways to head them off before they become problems.

Tricks of the Trade

In this episode we talked about moving up into management. Not everyone is cut out for a management role. Not everyone wants to supervise or manage people. There are other ways you can grow in your career above being a senior developer. Architects are one way of doing this. We have friends who are business, software, data, and systems architects. I have a coworker who has been a lead and a manager but didn’t like it so we went back to being a developer. It’s what he enjoys doing the most. His aim isn’t to move up in his career per se but to learn new and interesting things where he is now. So don’t feel like once you reach senior developer that the only option to move up is management.

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