We’re lucky in our profession that we are provided with a constant opportunity to learn, develop and increase our knowledge. While the basics of marketing remain, how we execute against them changes constantly due to the dynamics of our markets, the expectations of our customers and the impact of technology.
We’re expected to know about everything from the impact of GDPR to the role of chatbots in the customer experience and the efficiency of programmatic advertising, to name but a few areas of focus right now. It’s rewarding work but it’s hard work and, realistically, we’re not all experts in everything all of the time.
However, people often struggle to admit their knowledge gaps, preferring instead to bluff their way through and hope they won’t get found out. For some, this bravado is a sign of misplaced confidence and an aversion to seeking help leads to the practice of ‘winging it’, which may delay crucial learning in the organisation.
Conversely, these knowledge gaps can also give rise to ‘impostor syndrome’, with people fearing they’ll get found out if they ask the questions they need to, in order to understand more. Research conducted by Amazing If found that two-thirds of people who suffer from a fear of being found out at work feel their lack of confidence has had a negative impact on their career.
I have certainly experienced this knowledge challenge myself. Over the last eight years, I’ve moved from the oil and gas industry to Virgin and then more recently to the technology industry with Microsoft. In each role, I’ve headed up a team who have known far more about the industry and the customer we were serving than me. On each occasion, impostor syndrome raised its head and I had to very consciously quash it down.
Winging it wasn’t the answer either, or I’d be at risk of making poor decisions and lacking credibility with my stakeholders. On each occasion, the more powerful answer was to admit I didn’t know the answer and to ask for help.
Through my coaching, I know that many people struggle to do this as they carry a number of assumptions around with them about what will happen if they do ask for help. I’ve heard things like “I’ll lose the respect of my manager” or…