Impostor Syndrome: Inadequacy, Insecurity & Careers in Information Technology

Context: ‘Impostor syndrome’ affects almost 58% of tech professionals

Work in IT ? Feeling professionally inadequate, insecure ? You’re not alone. Of course – an organisational hyper-focus on appearances, reporting, superficiality and self-assessment is both a symptom of this syndrome and is also a root cause. The burden of unrelenting organisational performance metrics generate cultures in which staff are compelled to justify their professional tenure through clear and present hyper-productivity, regardless of actual service or product value. The production of something, anything at all and within the limited rules-sets and methodologically-regurgitated expectations of pre-fabricated (and sufficiently ambiguous) Best Practice creates a sense or awareness of ennui and futility.

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All the world’s a stage…

Organisational hierarchies are implicitly biased towards instilling insecurity in their inhabitants. Industries undergoing rapid metamorphosis produce selection mechanisms biased towards first doubting the value of their staff – this is a pruning and self-restrictive principle which in one view provides successful quality control for internal staff movement or promotion. This also creates a self-propagating and self-selecting bias within the limited methodological and discursive frameworks that already exist within an organisational system; the result being that this (existing) structural self-propagation becomes more important than placing the best staff. Subsequently, the reproduction of insecurity and hyper-competitive selection processes privileges the ongoing selection of staff most likely to pass these tests, but not necessarily likely to excel in their nominated roles.

The subjective experience of this is one in which no matter how good someone actually is at their job, internal organisational selection mechanisms are biased towards the replication of this insecurity and uncertainty; staff must adapt, wear and cope with this stress and each in their own best ways. People feel like they are impostors because, other than those few rank incompetents who actually do manage to blag their way into roles for which they are eminently unsuitable (and this is the arguably inevitable end-point of many contemporary hiring, contracting and promotional practices), rapidly evolving technical and organisational contexts generate implicit volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA).

Any takers on the question of the effects on worker insecurity of massively distributed automation uptake within the IT sector ?

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Fake it til you make it ?

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