What is self-esteem and why is employee self-esteem vital to the success of an organization? One of the most important principle we share in our Increasing Human Effectiveness and Connecting With Respect workshops is the concept of self-esteem. Self-esteem is not egoism or conceit, or an intellectual inventory of your favorable characteristics and assets. Self-esteem is knowing you’re good and wearing it well.

Healthy self-esteem is the degree that you, consciously or unconsciously, like and respect yourself and feel confident to deal with life’s challenges. It is how warm, friendly and appreciative you feel toward yourself and others. Healthy self-esteem can also determine your level of self-efficacy or the feeling that you have the ability to accomplish whatever goals you set your mind to. From an organizational perspective, “employees who feel good about themselves are typically able to focus better, need less time off, and generally get along well with coworkers (How to Build Self-Esteem in the Workplace by Candace Webb).”

Another important reason is that an environment in which there exists a great deal of unhealthy self-esteem, there can often be seen feelings of hostility among coworkers. This can manifest itself in a variety of negative ways:

  • Withholding. Some of the things which people withhold when they have unhealthy self-esteem include participation, praise, speech, information, and their best efforts.
  • Attacking on the subconscious level. Teasing and sarcasm often leave people laughing on the outside, but the subconscious mind may be buying into the barbs. Beware of attacks on the subconscious level.
  • Entering territorial boundaries. Entering the territorial boundaries of others, or “bugging” them, is another way hostility is expressed.

What benefits would you see if every employee within your organization had a one-notch rise in self-esteem? You may see an improved emphasis on serving and sharing among employees. A greater sense of self-efficacy might also be seen, meaning employees will have an improved level of confidence when embarking on difficult tasks.

“Outstanding leaders go out of the way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.” – Sam Walton

Building a culture that promotes high self-esteem can also be self-sustaining since people with healthy self-esteem tend to lock on to the positive characteristics and personality traits in themselves and others, thereby helping to improve the self-esteem of others around them.

What can you do within your organization to help achieve higher employee self-esteem?

First, it is important to have an honest discussion about the current level of esteem that is present within an organization. As a group, ask each other the following questions:

  1. How would you rate your organizational esteem level?
  2. What do you do to esteem each other?
  3. Is your tendency, in your organization, to look for negative performance and qualities in each other, or for the positive?

Then, discuss how you can apply the following steps for building healthy self-esteem in yourselves and others within your organization.

  1. Help people recognize they are beautiful and unique just the way they are!
  2. Guide people away from believing they have to stack up to others.
  3. Help people recognize that they are not their actions and decisions, and that failing in a relationship, task, or job, does not mean they are a “failure.” Losing the game doesn’t mean they are a loser.
  4. Help people become more responsible by participating in decisions that impact them.
    • Provide them with alternatives.
    • Allow them to recognize the benefits and consequences of each choice.
    • Allow them to make the decision.
    • Hold them accountable.
  5. Help people recognize that mistakes are only stepping-stones to achievement and provide the feedback necessary to improve.
  6. Help people recognize that life is a journey to be embraced and enjoyed one day at a time.
  7. Help people recognize that praise pays, even when things are not going well.

For more ideas on the topic of building healthy employee self-esteem and creating an environment of respect, The Respect Effect by Paul Meshanko goes into the topic in further detail and provides an excellent analysis of the benefits of creating a more respectful workplace that helps to enhance employee self-esteem. For a preview of this part of the book, check out the article How To Increase Self-Esteem And Success In Business.

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