How important is self-esteem in the workplace?


We all know that having good self-esteem is a key part of happiness. If we don’t believe in ourselves how will we ever achieve our goals or feel grateful for the things we have? There is plenty of information about self-esteem in relationships, friendships and everyday life but just how important is it in the workplace?

The benefits of high self-esteem

Dr Laura Morgan Roberts researches the importance of self esteem and she has found particular benefits associated with high employee self esteem. Employees who have a high level of self-esteem will trust their thinking and judgement and are therefore likely to make better decisions. Having these qualities also enables us to create more effective interpersonal and work relationships which means that we can more effectively contribute to the work environment around us. As leaders, high levels of self esteem mean we are able to focus more positively on other people and their development, rather than spend time berating our own performance.

There is no doubt about it, a good sense of self-esteem has an impact on the way we operate in the workplace, how we deal with people and how much we achieve in our career.

The drawbacks of low self-esteem

Having low confidence is something that has affected almost everyone at some point in their lives. Once it has been dented it can be difficult to get back and sadly, it has a huge impact on our personal and professional lives.

Poor self-esteem often leads to a fear of the new and unfamiliar and it can lead to unproductive work behaviours such as defensiveness, being overly compliant or rebellious.

How to create a more positive self image

We are our harshest critic and nobody is as hard on ourselves as we are. Unfortunately, the negative bias we have about ourselves turns into a habit and soon enough, constantly criticising the way we are becomes so natural that we don’t even realise we’re doing it.

If you think that you may be suffering from self-esteem issues, ask yourself the following questions:

  • When was I my best self at work?
  • When was I growing at work?
  • When was I engaged in virtuous actions at work?
  • When did I feel really good at work?
  • When was I validated by others?
  • When was I growing and developing to my full potential in the context of work?

Try to think back to a time you felt really great about yourself and what you were doing to feel that good. What has changed since then? Maybe you have a new manager or colleague you feel a bit threatened by, you may have started a new job and don’t feel fully settled yet or perhaps something in your personal life is affecting your performance at work.

The most important step is identifying what is causing you to feel low because until you have done that it’s impossible to overcome low self-esteem.

What leaders can do to promote positive self-esteem in the workplace

As a leader it’s not just important that your team has high self-esteem, it’s crucial that you do too.

As a manager you can encourage thoughtful reflection. Whether it’s time to conduct appraisals or a big project has just come to an end, don’t move on before understanding what went well and give thoughtful feedback to the individuals who were involved.

Ensure you engage the whole team. Some people will naturally contribute vocally whereas others will sit there quietly getting on with things. This doesn’t mean that they’re doing any less work or that the quality isn’t as good but often the quieter employees miss out on praise because they’re not shouting about what they’re doing. Take the time to acknowledge every member of your team and give praise where it’s due.

If you would like further information or advice about promoting good self-esteem in the workplace, please feel free to contact Chiswick Consulting and we will be more than happy to help.