Four Easy Ways to Boost Employees’ Self-Confidence

Whether you’re the CEO or a first-line supervisor, one of your most important responsibilities is to foster the development and competence of people that you supervise. This may entail teaching and evaluating the skills that an employee masters, or it may mean that you concentrate more on the person’s professional development over time. As it turns out, one of the most effective ways to encourage sustained professional development is to find ways to boost an employee’s confidence in his or her growing competence.

Confidence comes from a feeling that one has mastered a subject or task sufficiently to be able to perform competently, and so your job, first of all, is to be sure that employees have opportunities to learn and practice new skills or expertise. Exposure to practice, however, is not enough. Let’s look at four easy ways to boost employees’ self-confidence that also have other benefits to them.

1. Give timely feedback.
Whether the feedback that you want to give is praise (positive) or corrective (pointing out what went wrong and why), it needs to be done as soon as possible. Wait too long to give praise, and you risk making the person feel unappreciated. Wait too long to go over something that went wrong, and the person spends more time wondering when “the shoe” will drop and less time learning from the mistake.

2. Give details about the good and the not-so-good.
Just saying, “Good job!” is a start, but praise that is specific to the situation makes the person feel that you actually know what he or she has accomplished, and that his or her work was well-done. Make your praise specific about what the person did. Even more important is to be specific when you point out what went wrong with something the employee did, and that leads us to the next suggestion:

3. Acknowledge mistakes and help the employee in working out what went wrong and how to correct the mistake.
When an employee has made a mistake, or not done as well as you believe he or she is capable of doing, spend some time with the person to figure out what went wrong, and how to correct or improve next time. This only works if it is done in a sincere effort to help the person, and not done as a post-mistake clobbering session.

4. Have employees teach one another.
There are two main benefits to having employees teach one another, as long as you are reasonably comfortable with their expertise in the first place. It’s a useful way for the employee of discovering where there are gaps in his or her own knowledge. Further, it’s a tangible expression of your confidence in a person if you ask him or her to share their expertise with others. This doesn’t mean that you don’t need to monitor everyone’s progress, but it does mean that it gives you a chance to exercise the ways to boost confidence already discussed.

Helping employees build their self-confidence on the job has benefits for them as well as for the company. For the employee, strong self-confidence is an important part of job satisfaction. For the company, employees who have gained confidence in their knowledge and skills are open to new challenges and responsibilities.

We all build self-confidence by learning and mastering new information, tasks, and skills. If it’s part of your responsibility to foster the development of self-confidence in your employees or supervisees, use these four tips to help you do so in the people you work with.