In our final blog on the 5Cs we come to the subject of Confidence and in this part of the Performance Happiness model the questions are around how much self belief a person has, if they know they have the capacity to get things done, if they understand the red thread of their career and if they would recommend their organization to a friend.
This is possibly the most nuanced of the the 5Cs in terms of managing self-perception, which is of course what the whole of the Happiness at Work questionnaire is based on, self evaluation, done in order to identify what makes someone think makes them happy or unhappy at work, and then figuring out what to do about it. Also important to note is that the report is a snapshot of the moment in which the questionnaire was answered, not a long-term diagnostic of levels of happiness at work.
Positive self-belief is a beautiful thing to have, and one that parents spend a lot of time instilling in their children. And yet, when overdone it has a downside. Overconfidence is frequently the seed for large and complex failures, as demonstrated by Amy Edmondson in her latest book “Right Kind of Wrong, Why Learning to Fail Can Teach Us to Thrive”.
On the other side of the equation, low self-belief can lead to the experience of imposter syndrome, people who constantly doubt their own skills, so finding a realistic balance is the true challenge. So the subtle key is to work on developing the self-awareness that allows for a suitable pragmatic assessment of self-confidence.
So, when approaching the questionnaire we recommend doing it with a healthy dose of self-awareness, which will avoid anyone falling into the dreaded Dunning Kruger trap. An inflated or an unfounded sense of one’s own knowledge or expertise, and exaggerated sense of self belief. Research shows that this is far more common than one might imagine, in a 1977 study some 90% of faculty members rated themselves as above average teachers, and in another 1981 study 88 % of a study group of American college students, and 77% of Swedish graduate students rated themselves as more safe behind the wheel than other drivers. Wishful thinking, and statistically impossible!
The last element we measure here is whether a person would be willing to recommend their place of work to a friend. To recommend something as important as a work place you have to believe in it and to believe in your own criteria for making the recommendation. Within the ecosystem everything is connected, and each C will impact on the others. If your workplace makes you miserable and saps your confidence, it is highly unlikely that you would recommend it to a friend.
In our own team we were recently surprised when having a conversation, by how our colleagues who know us well saw our strengths from a different perspective, and this helped to add to our own sense of self-confidence in an objective way. Given that we were talking about succession plans at the time this also helped to boost our understanding of the “red threads of our careers” and how to play to strengths rather than weaknesses at the same time as helping to more accurately establish where to place our way of believing in ourselves.
Confidence and self-belief are essential to finding the inner resources to deal with difficult times, be they at home or at work, knowing that we can be efficient, and finding the steps that will help us to move forwards. When we look at the data we have for Confidence, this is where we currently have the highest correlation with happiness at work, so this could be a good place to conclude, by extending the leadership challenge of how to find a personal version of confidence that works…. with the right balance of confidence, vulnerability, and self-awareness, all at the same time.