We’ve all heard the popular phrase, “Fake it till you make it.” This expression elicits various mental pictures of people who lack confidence in their ability to do something, so they fake their way to success. There is one important downfall to this tactic – faking competence is essentially lying and can have a negative impact on a business. And as with any stream of lies, the truth will eventually surface.

Can you imagine if you found out that your surgeon, who was about to perform high-risk surgery on you, lacked the essential skills to do the job but had an inflated sense of confidence in his ability to be successful? Now, this is an extreme example, but it showcases the slippery slope of faking competence and ability.

At the heart of this “Fake it till you make it” strategy is the desire for increased confidence. There is a desire to exhibit strength in the face of a challenging situation or circumstance. Science and research have shown that this theory can have positive effects on our self-esteem when used in certain situations.

For example, forcing yourself to smile when you’re not feeling cheery has been shown to lift your mood, and dressing for the job you want can lead to increased performance. While you may not always have the answers or solution to the problem, exuding a calm and confident demeanor can create a calming effect and decrease the anxiety of those around you.

While there are some foreseen benefits to faking your way to success, corporate training must caution the use of this approach within their organizational walls. Employees should not be left in a position to fake knowledge. Learning and development (L&D) must strive to identify and close skills gaps by providing employees with access to the right training.

Building Investment in First-Time Managers

In the context of corporate training, there is a clear lack of investment in training for first-time managers and even more shortfall in coaching skills for those managers. All too often, high performers are moved into management positions due to their outstanding performance as a doer and are rewarded with a promotion to manage people. Going from doer to manager requires a completely different set of skills but often goes overlooked by many organizations.

If first-time managers are not provided with the necessary training and education, then they are essentially left to fake their way through their new job. This strategy can lead to high risks for organizations, including high turnover from employees who are not managed correctly, decreased employee performance, and lack of efficiency. A bad manager (just like a bad employee) can greatly impact company culture and can infect an otherwise healthy culture.

L&D must work to develop a robust plan to train new managers. This investment can significantly impact many of the company’s key performance indicators (KPIs). There are many informal ways to develop new managers. Instituting mentor programs where new managers can regularly meet with seasoned managers can allow an open dialogue with questions and concerns that arise in the context of the day to day. Having positive role models in the workplace can increase the confidence of first-time managers.

Having a resource library with leadership book recommendations, podcasts and TED Talks can provide new managers with access to develop in a self-paced manner and apply those insights on the job. Maintaining a social forum or community of knowledge where employees can connect over shared topics can serve as a resource when new managers have questions.

L&D must do its best to assemble the resources to help build strength in the role that touches the majority of the company’s employees. These leaders can set the tone of the entire organization and be a source of improved retention, heightened engagement and ultimately a competitive edge for their organization.

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