My colleagues make me feel inadequate and insecure

Friday November 16 2018

Everyone in my department comes across as very assured and smart – I feel insecure. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


Q. I am a new employee in a marketing and PR company. Everyone in my department, we are 15, comes across as very assured and smart – I feel insecure, and would like you to give me tips about how to stand out and get ahead in the workplace.


The experience of being new in an environment can, at least at the beginning, be unsettling, it is rarely a time when people are at their most confident. It takes time for new employees to appreciate the dynamics of a new workplace, including its people.

During such times, new employees would be a bit uncertain as they adjust to a new set of circumstances, which partly explains why changing jobs can be an uncomfortable experience.

Existing colleagues may appear self-assured owing to familiarity with their work environment. At this time when you feel a little insecure and self-conscious, the impression you have of their confidence and ability might be bloated.

Note that appearances of self-assurance are not always representative of confidence, it is less a game of putting on a show, more about being comfortable with oneself and not letting fear undermine your ability to meet expectations.


With time you will find your feet as you get to understand the culture of your workplace, know colleagues and better appreciate how to thrive and survive in your new environment. You have been employed because you possess the right qualifications and skills, now seek to understand the business, the expectations that the organisation has of you in your role, and forge meaningful relationships with colleagues, including your supervisor and direct reports, if you have them. The more you acclimate to your new circumstances and meet performance objectives, the more your confidence is likely to grow.

While you certainly need confidence, remember that ultimately, it will be your performance and the quality of relationships with your stakeholders that may make greater difference in your career. Do not unmercifully chastise yourself based on the appearances of others in your workplace.

Building confidence is a journey, be patient with yourself therefore, careful not to unfairly pit yourself against your colleagues especially while you are still new.

As Desmond Tutu puts it, “We can enjoy a self-assurance that doesn't depend on the state of things outside ourselves, be it downturns or booms or whatever”.