Some people are born extroverts and introverts. While one’s personality does not define their performance at work, their traits can affect how they act in a work setting. Shy employees tend to be afraid of taking risks, sharing their thoughts openly, and sometimes uncertain about their performance and capabilities. As a result, their lack of confidence leads to them being seen as an underperformer and not initiative. If left unaddressed, their inability to trust their own capacities might jeopardize their performance, career progress, and even the team’s overall growth. What can HR leaders do, then?
Some employees may be highly confident and possess great self esteem, with a willingness to take on bigger projects they have never handled before. These are star performers and great assets to the organisation, as they are able to be role models setting examples for the team to accomplish higher productivity goals. However, not all employees are like this. Some of them tend to be timid and feel insecure in a workplace due to some reasons. Consequently, they might find it more difficult to develop their skill sets, and even fail to meet deadlines and perform tasks quickly in urgent situations.
Introversion is not to be mistaken with inconfidence, just as extroversion should not be translated as being always confident. Your employees who do not speak much may actually be content with themselves, while the cheerful ones may actually be the least confident when it comes to perceiving their work quality. This lack of self confidence impacts the overall performance of a team in a collaborative workplace setting. Low self esteem, feeling of being threatened, and insecurity can lead to an unhealthy working environment and drive static work performance.
The role of a HR manager is to empower employees who lack confidence at work to showcase their skills. Those who constantly feel not confident with their work performance can dampen the morale and confidence of other employees as well. Here are some tips for HR managers to make shy employees feel more confident at work:
Every employee has a specific strength, but some of them might not realize it. Identification of an employee’s strength leads to higher motivation and improved self confidence levels. As a leader, you can encourage better by rewarding them with the appreciation they deserve for their strengths. Note that individuals with low self-esteem may not take criticism as good as those with moderate to high self-esteem. This means that they tend to perceive one harmless input as an overall threat to their work, thus amplifying insecurity and feeling of not being confident.
Positive feedback is an excellent approach to encourage employees to keep striving even when they are struggling. Employee trust is increased when accomplishments are acknowledged. Similarly, encouraging employees to appreciate each other’s abilities and accomplishments keeps them motivated to complete the tasks at hand. Imagine a situation where you manage a junior back-end developer with low self confidence on their job, but actually does the job well on a daily basis. When they manage to finish the given task earlier than the deadline, you can acknowledge this achievement by sending them a compliment message or email. Small appreciations can make confidence grow bigger over time. After all, it does not hurt to say some good words to someone for something they do well, right?
If you have plenty of time, have a one-on-one with less-confident employees and create a journey map on their performance. This map can help them understand what they need to do to meet what is expected of them. Such a document defines an employee’s professional goals, along with milestones that serve as a framework for measuring their progress.
Telling your employees that you give them a challenge may sound overwhelming, but what about giving them challenges, but subtly? HR managers can encourage employees to step outside of their comfort zone by assigning them initiatives that challenge them, but indirectly. The ideal way to do this is giving them assignments that are both difficult yet doable. Other than this can help increase their professional value, this can also be beneficial in fostering employees’ overall confidence.
Imagine you are a senior content writer who supervises some junior content writers, one of them is not very confident in giving opinions through the articles written. Subtly delegate this specific employee to start adding one paragraph of their personal take or opinion inside the article about the topic written. While this sounds like the senior content writer just wants the word count to be longer, this encourages not-so-confident employees to speak up about their personal thoughts instead of quoting others, thus forcing them to be confident and responsible about their opinion. Subtle indeed, but does it work? Most likely, yes.
Shy employees require more direction and teaching when being assigned to some tasks. This is because they tend to be controlled by their fear and insecurity, so they want as much guidance as possible. In facilitating this, managers should take the extra time to go through the task’s requirements and procedures. These specific employees with less confidence will feel more prepared to execute the assigned tasks and feel more at ease approaching their supervisor for assistance or clarification. It is mandatory that you communicate realistic objectives.
For example, you cannot expect your graphic designer to come up with five illustrations for social media posts, one motion graphic video, and post them altogether within a day. While this is already too hard for regular staff, this is twice more dangerous for employees with little self-confidence. These individuals may be overwhelmed that they start doubting themselves on what they did wrong all this time to be given this sort of ‘punishment’ that is beyond realistic. So, it is important to always communicate objectives as clearly as possible, while making them as realistic and attainable as possible.
As a leader, the success of your team is your success. By carefully supporting your employees in becoming more confident, not only you help them advance in their careers, but you also develop a stronger and more engaged team. When employees feel appreciated by their employer, it enhances their confidence, thus performing better as a result. In the end, companies will benefit from happier, more loyal, inventive, and high-performing employees who are devoted to its long-term success.