How can organizations help Product Managers to overcome imposter syndrome?

Rohit Verma
4 min readMar 15, 2023

Impostor syndrome can make us feel isolated and like we have to overcome it on our own, but creating a supportive environment where everyone feels like they belong is a collective responsibility. By working together, we can help each other grow and overcome impostor syndrome.

To maximize the return on investment in your PMs, it is important to create a work environment that allows them to perform at their full potential and where they want to continue working.

Let’s understand the various measure which can be taken to achieve that :

  1. Acknowledge and Address the Issue: The first step is to acknowledge that imposter syndrome is a real issue that affects many individuals. Organizations can arrange workshops or training sessions to create awareness about imposter syndrome and provide tools and techniques to overcome it.
  2. Expand acronyms & record them: Abbreviations and acronyms can be a source of confusion and impostor syndrome, especially in a new industry, organization, or role. When others around us seem to understand them easily, it can heighten the feeling that we don’t belong or know what we’re doing. Additionally, the same abbreviation can sometimes refer to multiple things, making it even harder to understand. To avoid relying on acronyms, it can be helpful to spell out phrases fully. This may take more time initially, but it can improve shared understanding and make it easier for new people to join a team or project. In fast-paced and growing organizations, this is especially important.
  3. Make resources available and transparent from the start: To reduce feelings of impostor syndrome and help everyone feel more informed and confident, it can be helpful to proactively share information and resources. This can include linking to relevant documents in messages and meetings, inviting all relevant stakeholders to sessions, and compiling a list of helpful resources for everyone to access. By making information and resources easily accessible, it can help everyone work more efficiently and effectively. Additionally, sharing information openly and transparently can help prevent misunderstandings and reduce the need for individuals to ask for information or resources.
  4. Create a failure club: Product managers are often faced with the challenge of making decisions with incomplete or uncertain information. This can make the role complex and uncertain, as even well-designed products can be impacted by factors outside of the product manager’s control, such as market conditions, legal issues, or system failures. Despite these challenges, product managers are responsible for making decisions and moving the product forward.
    Incorporating vulnerability into team meetings, such as by asking team members about their failures, can create a supportive and growth-oriented environment. This can help to foster a culture of learning and mutual support, where team members can offer assistance and support to one another. While some may view this type of conversation as “frivolous” or a waste of time, research has shown that top teams at leading tech companies prioritize this kind of safe sharing of failure. As a result, this type of conversation can be a valuable investment of time for teams looking to improve and grow together.
  5. Set Clear Expectations and Goals: Setting clear expectations and goals can help individuals understand their roles and responsibilities. Product managers who have a clear understanding of their expectations and goals are more likely to feel confident and motivated in their work.
  6. Provide Feedback and Recognition: Regular feedback and recognition are crucial for building confidence and self-esteem. Organizations can provide constructive feedback and recognition for their product managers’ accomplishments, which can help them recognize their value and contributions to the team.

For example, let’s say an organization has a new product manager who is struggling with imposter syndrome. The organization can help the product manager by creating a supportive environment where they can talk about their insecurities and receive feedback from their peers and leaders. The organization can also set clear expectations and goals for the product manager, provide regular feedback and recognition, and offer training or coaching to help them develop their skills.

Thanks for reading! If you’ve got ideas to contribute to this conversation please comment. If you like what you read and want to see more, clap me some love! Follow me here, or connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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Rohit Verma

Senior Product Manager @AngelOne, ex-@Flipkart, @Cleartrip @IIM Bangalore.