Key Insights

  • A recent Dale Carnegie study found that “Confidence is the emotion that empowered employees value most highly.”
  • When employees are self-confident, they perform at a higher level, show better engagement, and are more creative.
  • But confidence is a skill that many people need to work on.
  • Learn five ways to build self-esteem at work.
  • Explore six ways to lead by building employee self-confidence.


Welcome to the age of the empowered employee. This person walks into a meeting and listens well while providing valuable and creative insight. They never miss a deadline and always seem happy to be working or see their coworkers or managers. This worker believes in the company mission and strives to project strong values in their work and personal life. What is the secret to crafting this mythical-sounding employee?

Building employee self-confidence.

A recent Dale Carnegie study found that “Confidence is the emotion that empowered employees value most highly.” When employees are self-confident, they perform at a higher level, show better engagement, and are more creative. But confidence is a skill that many people need to work on.

Reasons Employees May Not Be Confident at Work


1. Lack of Job-Specific Knowledge & Training Opportunities


According to  a 2018 study, 32% of workers felt underqualified for their current role in the previous year. As time has progressed and work has become remote, hybrid, and filled with AI, workers feel even more unprepared to fulfill their job requirements, and 45% of employees say their work doesn’t provide enough job support training and skill development opportunities. Lack of self-confidence stems from  not knowing what you’re doing. Furthermore, according to a Harris poll, only 14% of employers provide coverage or reimbursement if the employee pursues skill development outside of the company’s offerings, implying that employees aren’t supported in obtaining the assistance they require.

2. Poor Management Style

Unfortunately, managers and bosses have a significant impact on employee confidence. A boss who lacks empathy may be unintentionally harsh to an employee about a mistake or when giving constructive feedback. Managers also might fall into micromanaging, taking decision-making power out of the hands of the worker. This can cause confidence in the workplace to decline significantly.

3. Company Disarray

Along with management style the company’s culture, policies, mission, and future are all important considerations. If any of these are in disarray, employees will disengage. According to Gartner, 52% of employees strongly agreed that the pandemic has caused them question the purpose of their jobs. A clear company mission that managers can directly connect to employee work means those employees will have an innate desire to complete their work and do it well. Policies must protect a good company culture that will retain and attract employees. To ensure a company’s future as an industry leader, keep your company in order.


5 Ways  to Be Confident at Work

Self-confidence is at a low right now, but it is a skill we can practice and a characteristic we can cultivate. Here are quick ideas for how to build your confidence at work:

  1. Stop Comparing Ourselves to Others: This is good life advice, but at work, it’s critical that we judge our performance based on our own skills and expectations and not try to keep up with others who may have been at the job longer and have more knowledge.
  2. Fake It: Just like the physical act of smiling can make you happier, acting in self-confident ways (such as interacting with better posture and eye contact or dressing up more) can make you feel self-confident, even if you feel like you’re faking it.
  3. Set a Goal (and Make it Easy): Give yourself a goal for practicing your self-confidence, and make sure it’s one you can achieve quickly since small wins are what grow momentum.
  4. Work on Self-Awareness: Being aware of ourselves means we are in tune with our strengths and weaknesses and do not judge ourselves on them but rather concentrate on growing and being better.
  5. Stretch Yourself: It may sound counterintuitive to step outside your comfort zone if you’re already struggling with confidence, but never stretching means never rising to higher self-confidence.

6 Ways to Boost Employee Self-Confidence

It’s no fun to be splashing around in the pool of self-confidence by yourself. If our confidence is high, but others’ confidence around us is low, we can easily work to encourage and support them. Knowing how to boost someone’s confidence is a key trait of leaders, managers, and executives. Here are  6 ideas for how to boost employee confidence:

  1. Recognition: Take the time to recognize someone’s efforts and contributions, even if they resulted in a negative outcome or their idea wasn’t chosen.
  2. Offer Assistance: The employee may choose not to accept assistance on a project knowing that help is available can relieve pressure and increase confidence.
  3. Cultivate Psychological Safety: As leaders, it is our responsibility to create a culture of psychological safety within the organization and individual teams, so employees will feel more supported in speaking up and sharing their ideas.
  4. Provide Training: From on-the-job skills training to a course specifically designed to raise self-confidence in public speaking, leadership, or in general, employers need to give employees opportunities to learn and grow.
  5. Listen: Sometimes, all it takes to create an atmosphere of openness is listening to that person, whether it be in a meeting with an idea or during a one-on-one call.
  6. Delegate and Empower: Employees, must step up to the plate when given responsibilities, which pushes them slightly outside of their comfort zone, which is how they gain confidence.

A lack of self-confidence at work causes disengaged employees who perform poor work because they lack empowerment and motivation. Building confidence at work, therefore, is of utmost importance. Whether it’s a confidence course for kids and teens, a leadership course for confidence, or the foundational Dale Carnegie course, Dale Carnegie has programs designed to build confidence at any stage in anyone at any level.