Confidence plays a massive role in career development. And who wouldn’t want to see their employees grow and harness their untapped potential?

< Back to Blog Oct 27, 2023

4 Tips for Leaders to Boost Employee Confidence

Oct 27, 2023

The Confidence Gap

Gallup’s survey of over 8,000 working Americans revealed a startling confidence gap among employees. Specifically when it comes to reaching their career goals. Only 49% of those actively pursuing their career aspirations report being “very confident” in their ability to reach their desired position within their current workplace.

Racial Disparities in Confidence

Digging deeper, the data highlights disparities in confidence levels across different racial and ethnic groups. White workers express higher levels of confidence, with 52% believing they can achieve their career goals. Only 45% of Black and Hispanic employees share the same level of confidence. Furthermore, Black and Hispanic workers are more likely to doubt their potential, with 20% of Black employees and 17% of Hispanic employees admitting to having low confidence in reaching their career goals, compared to 12% of White employees.

These statistics underscore the need for organizations to address the confidence gap. For instance, just 7% of Black and Hispanic employees have already reached their desired positions, compared to 11% of White employees. This difference is evident even at the highest levels of organizations. A Stanford study found that only 16% of C-suite positions in Fortune 100 companies are held by racial minorities.

Inspiring Confidence: The Role of a Senior Leader

Confidence may seem like an internal trait, but you have the power to help foster it. Senior leaders have a significant role to play when it comes to employee confidence. Gallup’s research suggests that the following actions can help inspire confidence and unlock untapped potential:

1. Create a Clear Career Path

Provide employees with a transparent career development plan. When employees can see a clear path forward and understand how their current efforts contribute to their future, they gain a more concrete vision of their career. As a result, they feel more confident about their journey.

Employees who strongly agree that their organization offers a clear career development plan are nearly twice as likely to be very confident in reaching their career goals. Encourage open conversations with employees about their career options and the necessary steps to achieve them. Ensure that they leave these conversations with a clear understanding of what to do next.

2. Incorporate Development into Daily Work

Developing confidence should be an ongoing process integrated into everyday work life. Employees who receive feedback and discussions about their progress are 49% more likely to report high confidence.

Senior leaders should encourage managers to incorporate development into employees’ daily tasks. By offering opportunities, experiences, and responsibilities that align with career goals, organizations can help employees see their future as a tangible and attainable reality.

3. Provide Resources and Guidance

Mentorship plays a vital role in boosting confidence. Create a culture that encourages employees to seek advice, guidance, and mentorship. Workers who have someone at work to help them reach their career goals are nearly twice as likely to be very confident in achieving their desired career outcomes.

Choose mentors thoughtfully, as not everyone possesses the skills needed to be effective mentors. Ideally, mentors should serve as role models. They help employees understand their potential by connecting them with more experienced colleagues who have achieved the roles they aspire to.

4. Ensure Equity

Remove obstacles that hinder progress and create a level playing field for all employees. Those who believe they have equal opportunities for development are almost twice as likely to be very confident in reaching their goals. Public recognition of employees’ achievements and a transparent process for promotions can dispel favoritism and boost confidence.

Examine your development procedures and ensure internal mobility is fair and transparent. When employees perceive promotion decisions as equitable, they are nearly twice as likely to have high confidence in their career aspirations.

The Impact of Confidence

How organizations support employees’ development significantly affects their confidence levels. Employee confidence has a direct impact on engagement and wellbeing. Those who are fully confident in achieving their career goals are twice as likely to be engaged, 27% less likely to suffer from burnout, and 38% less likely to be on the lookout for new job opportunities.

Ultimately, unlocking the untapped potential of a diverse workforce requires a focus on clear paths, development, and equity within the organization. Senior leaders must take the lead in creating a culture that inspires confidence and empowers employees to achieve their full potential. It’s a journey that starts today, and the rewards are boundless.