How to boost confidence in your employees

Have your employees lost confidence in their ability to do their work?

Perhaps the company is working with fewer resources on bigger projects.

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Maybe employees have had to take on more responsibilities.

Or perhaps the company structure has changed due to a re-org or new leadership.

Whatever the reason, if you’ve noticed employees are less engaged or less productive, they likely could benefit from more confidence at the workplace. As a leader, you possess the skills and some might argue, the obligation, to encourage your employees’ confidence. Not only will they be happier in their jobs and more likely to be retained, but in challenging situations, their increased confidence will help ease transitions, reduce tension and increase motivation. Here are my five suggestions for how to increase confidence in your employees.

1. Open lines of communication

Keep the lines of communication open with all employees, at all times. According to The Carrot Principle by Adam Gostick and Hester Elton, your very best performers are also often the most insecure people in the organization. Talk with employees about their work environment, even those exhibiting no signs of stress or lack of confidence. Don’t assume you know which employees will benefit the most from this conversation. Have it with all of them and have it often. Specifically address:

  • The company: What’s important to the company at this time? What are the business objectives?
  • Their role: How does he/she make a difference? How do his/her efforts align with the business objectives?
  • Their motivation: What’s in it for him/her when he/she does make a difference?

2. Set Clear Expectations

Ensure employees understand what is expected of them. Link these expectations to benefits for the company as well as the employee personally. A best practice is to write them down and regularly review to measure progress and course correct when necessary. Confidence in the workplace involves trusting and believing in the leaders. In turn, make sure you understand what the organization and your manager expect of YOU.

3. Be Conscious about Recognition

It is important to notice and recognize when employees meet their personal goals or achieve steps toward meeting goals. Recognition does not have to be expensive or take a lot of time – sometimes a simple ‘thank you’ goes a long way. It’s important to be specific about the behavior or result being recognized and to connect it back to the company’s goals. It’s also important to give recognition evenly and consistently. Strong leaders will find something to recognize in each employee based on their daily job performance and contributions to the overall business goals.

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4. Encourage Idea Sharing

Encourage employees to share their ideas and create forums where these ideas can be easily exchanged. Be fully in the moment during these sessions giving your employees and their ideas your full attention. Adopt the philosophy, “There is no bad idea in idea sharing.” Listen closely and take opportunities to build rapport across the team, group or company. Having a voice and having it heard is important in boosting confidence.

5. Reduce negative talk

As I recommended in Increase Your Self Confidence in the Workplace, changing the little voice in your head that says, “You can’t do that” or “You’re not smart enough for this” into more positive thoughts eventually helps your brain change the interpretation of the situation. As you become more optimistic, you build self-confidence about your abilities to handle the work. Similarly, replacing negative talk with optimism will help employees build more confidence in their abilities to do their job and motivation to work toward the team and company’s goals.

Taking these simple steps will help boost employees’ self-confidence in their ability to do their job well and feel confident about their value to the organization. By building their confidence, you will make a difference in your employees’ commitment to their work and establish more positive outcomes for the company.

An unknown source said, “With confidence, you can reach amazing heights; without confidence, even the simplest accomplishments are beyond our grasp.”

What amazing heights will you help your employees reach today?


Linda O’Neill is the vice president of strategic services at Vigilant, a company dedicated to helping companies in Oregon, Washington, Montana, Idaho and California solve their most complex employment issues. Linda is a certified executive coach and organizational development expert who works with Vigilant members companies to create high functioning organizations, at the individual, team and systemic levels. Linda is graduate of the University of Oregon, BS in journalism and public relations.