Commit Team Photo

P2P Q+A: How do you deal with imposter syndrome?

October 22, 2021 in Work out loud

Commit’s peer-to-peer bot helps community members tap into the vast expertise of our peers and colleagues to ask questions that span the spectrum from technical to personal. Here’s the latest question and answers.

Community member: How do you handle imposter syndrome? Earlier in my career, I thought developing comfort and expertise in specific engineering domains would help me with imposter syndrome, but it almost feels like it’s getting worse as I get more responsibilities. I’d love to hear your thoughts on how to overcome or manage feelings of imposter syndrome.

Phong Thieu: My opinion is that you don’t ever fully get over it. You’re always going to have some form of imposter syndrome—and it’s not necessarily a bad thing, as it keeps you in check and helps you improve and keep growing. It can also help prevent you from looking down on others.

The key is to know that the majority of people feel the same way, and it’s completely okay. One reason people may feel imposter syndrome is that they haven’t received clear direction and goals, so they don’t actually know if they’re doing well or not—and you have no control over that. Bringing it up with your manager is a great step, especially during one-on-ones, as your manager can give you feedback and let you know you’re doing okay or how to improve. That way you have an objective action item, which can help you feel more in control.

Beier Cai: This is the story of my entire career so far! Like Phong said, start by embracing it, then learn to manage it over time. Here are my personal lessons:

  • I try to surround myself with people who have “been there and done that,” so I can always seek help when I need it. Not just about strategic stuff, tactical stuff too. 
  • Be honest with your team, own your mistakes and learn from them. While you should always believe in yourself, you want your team to perceive you as someone who may not know everything but is always trying your best. 
  • Always seek feedback from your manager, your peers, and potentially the team you manage.

Hai Hoang: I used to be concerned about imposter syndrome and now I see it as a really good thing, because it means I’m being put in situations where I can learn and grow. Embracing it is the key! If imposter syndrome ever goes away completely then that probably means you’ve stagnated. Pretty much echoing what Phong and Beier said!

✅ ✅ ✅

Interested in joining a support network of engineers that help you with your technical and non-technical problems? Sign up to our waitlist now!