Why’s having confidence at work so important? No doubt, you can recognize a confident employee a mile away. They often hold their head high and their shoulders back. They may speak with unwavering authority. And they usually don’t hesitate to share ideas at board meetings. 

But what about an employee who lacks confidence?

They may be less likely to advocate for themselves. And they may appear less motivated. Also, if their morale is low, that can negatively impact the workplace culture and your ability to retain that employee. 

In our latest episode of Team Bonding Saves the World we met with Asia Bribiesca-Hedin, the founder and CEO of Bridgewell Professional Services. We discussed what employers could do to empower employees to evolve into their most confident selves.

No matter how you choose to lift your employees’ confidence, leading by example is critical. As Asia says, “What better strategy than one executed by people who are confident, fulfilled, resilient, and able to inspire the best from themselves and those around them?” 

Keep reading to discover 8 ways to build your employees’ confidence in the workplace and beyond and how to work on your own confidence.

How to Help Employees Build Confidence at Work

Assess and Reflect on Your Leadership Style

Before you can empower your employees, you’ll need to first look into your leadership mirror. In short, what are you doing or could you do to boost their confidence at work? We recommend asking yourself the following questions:

  • Do my employees feel comfortable approaching me with concerns?
  • Do I micromanage my employees?
  • Do I recognize their achievements and celebrate them?
  • Am I listening to their concerns and offering personalized solutions?
  • Do I give my employees regular, constructive feedback?
  • Have I taken the time to identify my employees’ strengths and areas of improvement to help them recognize the value of their and their colleagues’ potential? Strengths Finder 2.0 is ideal for this.
  • Do I criticize my employees and hold them to unrealistic standards?
  • Do I offer my employees opportunities to grow their confidence or become stronger leaders, such as through Leadership Stories, etc.?
    • Do I offer confidence training for employees?

If you answered “no” to one or more of these questions, you’ll want to reflect on ways you could offer your less confident employees more support.

Next, you’ll need to know what signs to look for in an employee who lacks confidence. While not any single or combination of the following signs means your employee lacks confidence, one or more of them could signal a red flag:

  • Lacks motivation
  • Their productivity is suffering.
  • Exhibits arrogance.
  • Struggles with effective communication.
  • Needs constant validation
  • Offers little to no input during meetings
  • Shows an ongoing negative attitude
  • Acknowledges feeling underappreciated
  • Fails to see the value in their skills or contributions in the workplace.

Recognize and Celebrate Your Employees’ Achievements

Most employees want their leaders to recognize and even reward their achievements. Positive reinforcement can give them a significant confidence boost. No need to wait until the end of the year to acknowledge their successes, though. Instead, be proactive in rewarding their achievements all year long, no matter how significant or insignificant they may be.

Not sure how to best recognize or celebrate a job well done? Here are some of our favorite ways, no matter your budget:

  • Send a company-wide email praising the employee. Doing so welcomes the whole team to celebrate.
  • Create an Employee Spotlight page in your newsletter or on your website. 
  • Take them out to a celebratory dinner at a restaurant of their choice.
  • Offer a gift card or tickets to a local restaurant or recreational venue.
  • Promotions, bonuses, or extra PTO are always welcome!

Offer Short-term or Long-term Mentorships

It can be hard to learn how to build confidence in your team. Employees can lack confidence for any number of reasons. If you determine their confidence deficit stems from doubting their skillset or contributions to the company, then offering them a mentorship may help. 

A short-term, peer-to-peer mentorship could empower them. Knowing they can bounce ideas off of a colleague might expose them to effective ways to combat their inner nay-sayer. 

Or, you could set them up with a reverse mentorship. This will help them step into a leadership role and boost their confidence by offering guidance to a senior-level team member. 

confidence at work

Include Less Confident Employees in Decision-Making

When employees lack confidence, they may experience a lot of self-doubt. One way to help them squash that little voice that tells them they “can’t” is to show you trust them with meaningful, C-suite-level issues.

Consider looping your less confident employees into a key decision-making opportunity beyond their typical job responsibilities. You’d be signaling that you trust their thoughts and ability to tackle a problem–even when they don’t.

Offer Frequent Constructive & Positive Feedback

How often do you give your employees constructive feedback? Do you hold off until their annual review? Or do you give them criticism whenever they don’t meet a performance goal?

Avoid this.

If your employee is already doubting their abilities and performance, negative feedback will only reinforce that feeling, especially when it is only given after they make a mistake.

Instead, opt for consistent constructive and positive feedback throughout the work week. 

Take 15 minutes everyday to check in with them, understand their feelings and thoughts about their performance, and offer genuine feedback that will help them throughout their role. 

Additionally, use this as a time to connect with your employee. Talk to them about similar situations you have experienced yourself and how you overcame them. This will give them the tools they need to better their performance without being explicitly told what they did wrong and how they need to do better. As Asia points out in the podcast, “[Confidence] is independent of whether people are being nice to you… it’s not dependent on someone else, it’s your ability to show up and basically decide you have your own back and can figure it out.”  

With that being said, it’s important you provide your employees with the feedback and tools they need to build that confidence and rely on themselves. 

Prioritize Your Employees’ Learning and Development

If you have an employee who doubts their abilities to perform their job successfully, you may need to head back to the drawing board. By this, we mean, you’ll want to consider giving them additional training and professional development opportunities so they can practice old and new soft skills.

There are countless ways to prioritize your employees’ learning and development. For instance, you can increase your budget for their L&D. You can also offer them collective learning and growth opportunities to pursue together as a team, such as Team Resilience Training to better develop their ability to bounce back from adversity. 

Remember, continuing professional development doesn’t have to be a solitary act. Oftentimes, it is done through information sharing and empowerment across the entire team. Confidence building exercises for employees like The Global Innovation Game is the ideal teamwork activity to do that, and equips employees who lack confidence in their creative thinking skills or fear offering the team out-of-the-box solutions. 

During this activity, they’ll work to create new products or services based on a series of prompts. An exercise like this will remind your less confident employees to embrace and find value in what they bring to the table.

Recognize the Value of Failure

Success and failure are two sides of the same coin. No employee will succeed 100% of the time–just as nobody is confident 365 days per year. While most employees enjoy discussing their successes more than our failures, it’s essential to recognize the value of failure.

You might be thinking–what’s the benefit of doing that? It turns out, quite a lot, depending on how you look at it. 

First, from your employee’s perspective, a failure may not be an actual failure. In other words, if an employee always doubts themselves or suffers from perfectionism, they may interpret anything but a significant win as a failure. So, perspective is critical to keep in mind.

If you aren’t sure about how to show your employees the value of failure, we’ve put together a few ideas to get you started:

  • Give equal attention to failure as you do success. Be open, and avoid negative language around failure.
  • Encourage your employees to reframe the way they think about failure. You could ask them what they’ve learned from the experience instead of what they didn’t achieve.
  • As a leader, share your past and current failures. Doing so could inspire your employees and make you more relatable [and approachable] when they need advice.

Offer an Open Door and an Active Listening Ear

Your least confident employees need to know they can approach you when they need advice, reassurance, or a reminder they’re doing a good job. Make sure they know how and when they can reach you. After all, this is one of the most important ways to be an effective leader.

More importantly, it takes a lot for a doubt-ridden employee to make the first move and reach out for help. Be observant. If you see an otherwise confident employee suddenly morph into an introvert, take the first step. Reach out to them. Invite them to lunch. Get the conversation going.

You’ll want to practice your active listening skills when you meet with them. Doing this will show them that you genuinely care about how they’re feeling.

It is almost important to embody the belief “no question is a stupid question”. Answer all questions without judgement or dismissiveness. In the podcast, Asia stresses that workplace confidence leads to “Being able to show up completely, being able to contribute, being able to support, being able to ask the questions.” This is only possible if the environment they are working in is open and accepting.

Ready to Give Your Employees an Opportunity That Will Boost Their Confidence At Work?

Most of us ebb and flow with our confidence levels. Circumstances change. Life events occur, too, and before we know it, we’re not feeling as confident in our abilities. 

The same holds for your employees. But there’s no reason to lack confidence at work when there are tools everyone can use.

When an employee feels secure in their abilities and what they bring to the table, they’re more likely to produce their best work. When they do, that’s a win-win situation for them and your team. Fortunately, you can take a proactive approach and offer your employees professional development opportunities to build their confidence.

Listen to the complete podcast here on building confidence at work to learn about additional opportunities to improve your employees’ confidence.


Anna Webber

Team Contributor


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