Self-efficacy is your belief in your ability to complete tasks and achieve goals. So in other words, it’s whether or not you believe you can succeed in specific situations. Extensively studied by noted psychologist Dr. Albert Bandura for almost six decades, self-efficacy has important implications for your role as a leader; after all, when your people are confident and believe in themselves, their ability to get things done increases significantly. So what can you do to increase your staff’s confidence and belief in themselves? Dr. Bandura’s pioneering research has identified four factors that affect people’s self-efficacy.
- Experience. Past success raises self-efficacy, while failure lowers it. It is the most important of the four factors, so it’s worth investing your energy in setting your employees up for success – put them in situations where you know they have the skills to do a good job. Don’t inadvertently set them up to fail by assigning work that they are not trained for or not capable of doing.
- Modeling. People believe that “If someone else can do it, I can do it as well.” When they see others succeeding, their self-efficacy expands. So publicly celebrate your team members’ successes; it will inspire others to reach higher and further as well.
- Social persuasion. Direct encouragement or discouragement from another person affects self-efficacy. As a manager or supervisor, you are in a perfect position to boost or dishearten. Don’t lose sight of your influence; wield your power well. And it’s worth keeping in mind that a bat has more weight than a bouquet; research shows that discouragement is more effective at decreasing someone’s self-efficacy than encouragement is at increasing it.
- Physiological Factors. In stressful situations, people commonly feel nervous, or nauseous, or develop ‘butterflies in the stomach’. And how they perceive these responses can noticeably alter self-efficacy. So if they feel that nerves before a big presentation is a bad thing, then their confidence will waver; yet if they see it as normal and stimulating, their confidence will actually increase. As a leader then, educate your employees on the benefits and handicaps of positive and negative stress so that they can better manage their physiological responses.
With some conscious effort on your part, it is fairly easy for you to increase your employees’ self-efficacy. I’d love to hear about your experiences in this regard. Please share by adding your comments below.