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Tips for Overcoming Low Self Esteem in the Workplace

If you are taking your organization along the high performance path - overcoming low self esteem may be an issue you need to grapple with. Use these tips to enable people to be at their best

Overcoming low self-esteem in the workplace calls on very similar principles to those that we reviewed in the how to build self-esteem page.


But a small caution before we proceed!

The biggest challenge is the individual's own beliefs. While you can help them see what they have to offer, ultimately it is up to them how they manage their thinking. Growing your self-esteem is a self-help job!

Be very wary of taking responsibility for others mindset and/or personal choices or feeling you must improve them. This is their life, their journey. The best you can do is to create the conditions, (such as those described below), that encourage people to be the best possible version of themselves so that they can shine.

As a high-performance team leader, you are striving to create a culture of quality - both in products, services, and people. So you want to create the conditions that bring about quality thinking and action.

Create a company that people can feel proud of

How high do you think people, who are work at Virgin fly compared to those of British Air?


Think about the people who were start-up members of companies like Zappos, Harley Davidson, Google, Apple, Microsoft. How much do you think these people's belief in themselves has grown as their company has become 'rockstars'?

I would think we would all agree that each of these companies has high collective self-esteem. Their team members wear it as a badge of honor, to say that they work for that particular company. When you work for a company that has an ethos, that others admire, you lift your game.

Even if you aren't in a company that has 'rockstar' status, create that in your team. Be the type of leader who inspires people to consistent high-standards, so that YOUR team becomes the rockstar in the company. Your leadership can have a massive impact on how people feel about themselves. 

Creating the Conditions for Overcoming Low Self Esteem

The four Bs of high-performance come into play when we are thinking about overcoming low self-esteem. In particular, Believing and Belonging have a major impact.

  • Believing: Regularly reinforce with each team member how their efforts contribute to the success of both their team and the company. Provide people with a handwritten note thanking them for their efforts.

In this note, refer to specific actions or decisions they took that made a difference. You'll make it more potent when you comment upon how their input impacted on things like profit, productivity, complaint rates tumbling, team cohesion etc. 


Not only does this reinforce with the individual that they are valued - they can also share it with their loved ones.

  • Behaving: Recognize and make use of each individual's strengths. When people can regularly use their skills and talents, they become more productive and feel more fulfilled.
  • Bottom-line: Provide uplifting training regularly. Most high-performance organization's give as strong a focus on people's personal development as they do to technical and business skills.
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Why Bother Improving Self-Esteem in the Workplace?

People with high self-esteem are:

  • Willing to take risks
  • More open to change
  • View challenges as opportunities rather than problems
  • Less inclined to complain, more prone to get on and fix
  • Self-starting
  • Willing to point out problems/flaws

Pretty nice characteristics to have in a high-performance team don't you think?

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