5 signs to tell if low self-esteem is ruining performance levels

Poor performance is very frustrating for a manager but rather than pointing the finger of blame, it is a better idea to try and understand if there are any deeper problems going on. Sometimes low self-esteem can be a big hindrance and can stop an employee from performing to the best of their ability.

We tell you five signs to look out for:

1. They don’t like taking on new tasks

Whenever you ask them to take on a new challenge at work, you can tell they are hesitant and reluctant. Perhaps they put it off until the last minute, or maybe they avoid talking about it with you. These are all clear signs that they aren’t confident enough to believe in themselves, they don’t think they will succeed because they aren’t familiar with the new process.

Tip: To build their esteem up, you need to make them aware that you know it won’t be perfect the first time around because they’ll have only just learnt how to do it. Everyone is unsure about new tasks which they aren’t familiar with, it’s more about having the confidence to see them through and take control when things don’t go to plan. The more you can make them aware of this, the more confident they will feel. Let them know what they can do and who they can talk to if things don’t run smoothly.

2. They take things that you say to heart 

Do you find that whenever you explain a problem to them, or comment on a mistake they have made, they seem to hold a grudge against you for a while? This can be a sign that they aren’t very confident, they probably place a lot of focus on themselves and replay mistakes in their head over and over again. It can be hard for a person with low self-esteem to let go of the past, accept things, and move on.

Tip: Of course you still need to highlight problems and mistakes but with less confident members of staff you need to pad out the bad comments with good things. For example, you may have noticed that they aren’t storing refund receipts properly. Rather than just saying that to them you should say “Great work on the tills today ____ I can see you’ve been really busy, just a quick thing to remember, the refund receipts need to be kept in the bottom drawer.” This should help stop them from focusing so much on the bad points of their performance.

3. Nothing is ever good enough for them 

Perhaps you carried out their performance review and thought they did really well. You then ask them how they thought they did and they try to find anything wrong that they can. This is a sign that they are a perfectionist and unless things go absolutely perfectly then they will not be happy. This can be a good thing because it means they won’t rest until they think they have done exceptionally well. But it can also be damaging, because good performance and self-confidence spurs on even more good performance and confidence. However, when they think they haven’t performed well and lack confidence then this can turn into a downward spiral which leads to bad performance.

Tip: This tip is easy, you need to hammer home how well they are doing and make them feel proud of their work and performance. Use rewards and recognition to do this. Oplift achievements allow you to send stickers and trophies to employees when you think they have performed particularly well.

4. They constantly ask you for reassurance 

A confident employee will just get on with the job and won’t need you to reassure them they are doing it right because they trust themselves. Someone who lacks self-esteem will need hand-holding through the process and feel the need to be told they are doing it correctly as they go along.

Tip: Make it clear that you trust them to see the job through to the end and if they make any mistakes it’s all part of the learning curve.

5. They worry over small details 

Perhaps you’ve asked them to show some new patients around the hospital, you know this shouldn’t be hard for them because they have worked on the ward for months. Because they have never done it before, they start asking every question about possible scenarios that could happen and questioning how well they really do know where they work.

Tip: When you catch employees worrying over small details, you need to reiterate the bigger picture to them and make them realise the overall goal. When they are more focused on that, the small details will melt away and everything else will fall into place. For the example above, you would say “All you need to worry about is making them feel safe, comfortable, and welcome, as this is the point of showing them around. When you do this you shouldn’t need to worry about answering tricky questions because you will have answered everything for them.”

The key tip to remember is that employees with low self-esteem need their confidence building up with a lot of reassurance and praise. Oplift builds confidence by instantly giving your staff the resources they need and the recognition they deserve, think of it like Google for your business. Whenever they feel unsure of an answer or solution Oplift is always there to reassure them and help them do their job to the best of their ability. When you do this you will eventually have a team of confident and proactive staff. Virgin Media saw a 2.2% increase in sales month-on-month after using Oplift, due to more knowledgable and confident staff.


Other posts that may be of interest to you:

5 things you think improve performance but actually destroy it

6 things sensitive staff need for a better employee experience

How to tell if your employees are NOT developing at work

Written by Hayley Lloyd

Published 13th March 2019