The enablement profession is a breeding ground for imposter syndrome. While imposter syndrome has been a highly discussed topic in recent years in a variety of work environments, enablement professionals are uniquely positioned to doubt their own capabilities and worry about being perceived as a fraud.
There are a few factors that make the enablement professionals an easy target for imposter syndrome.
- The lack of role definition in enablement
- The fact enablement draws people who are new to the role
- That it's difficult to have worked in every role you support
Let's address these and then take a look at how you can overcome these feelings of imposter syndrome.
Lack of role definition in enablement
First, there is a lack of enablement role definition and consistency across organizations.
With so many different definitions of what enablement does and the variation in enablement teams’ structure across organizations, enablement professionals continually have to:
- Justify their roles
- Explain what enablement is
- Clarify their specific responsibilities within an organization.
Additionally, cross-functional partners and go-to-market (GTM) leadership often have preconceived expectations of what enablement roles should look like based on their own experiences working with enablement at their previous companies.
It’s often a person’s first enablement role
Second, people with just a few years of experience may be in their first enablement role.
In many ways, enablement is still in its early years as a formal function. This leads many professionals to enter the enablement space by way of another career path (e.g. learning & development, sales, etc.).
Making a career change can put anyone in a position where they may doubt their knowledge, or the skills and accomplishments that got them there.
For me, these feelings were particularly evident when I first stepped into an enablement role, having joined the space after a number of years in consulting.
While I always knew I had the strategic and programmatic skills to excel in enablement, I often questioned my credibility, as I hadn't spent years carrying a quota as a sales leader or building learning programs in a learning & design role like many of my enablement peers.
Lack of experience across supported teams
Third, even enablement professionals who have experience in a field role, may not have experience across all the revenue teams they support.
Without on-the-job experience, enablement professionals may question their credibility when providing training and resources to the teams they support, even when they are sharing a company’s or leadership's approved best practices.
This challenge can be exacerbated by interactions with leaders who mightn’t show respect to an enablement partner based on their career background.
These are just a few of the many reasons one may experience imposter syndrome in an enablement role. With so many enablement professionals at risk of feeling like an imposter at points in their career, it is important to recognize this challenge and focus on ways to overcome it.
Overcoming imposter syndrome
To start, all the standard guidance found in “how to overcome imposter syndrome”-focused articles and books applies to enablement, but there are also a few tips worth looking at specifically in an enablement context.
Setting clear expectations
When imposter syndrome stems from a lack of role definition and consistency across organizations, remember to set clear and realistic expectations.
When taking on a new enablement role at any organization, one must be clear on exactly what enablement was hired to do, as well as understand any preconceived notions about enablement that already exist within the organization.
A survey of GTM leadership and their teams can help uncover these insights. Once you know what people think enablement is or does, you can focus on ensuring enablement is aligned with expectations, course-correcting where necessary.
Building a value story
When feeling like a fraud in a first-time enablement role, one should diligently build a value story, while ensuring enablement programs are aligned with best practices.
There are two ways to look at value stories in this context. The first is a personal enablement value story and the second is an enablement role value story.
When building a personal enablement value story, new enablers should consider the transferable skills from their previous roles that set them up for success in the enablement space.
There are a wide range of skills needed to be a strong enablement professional and there is no right way to have built that expertise.
To build an enablement role value story, enablers should be clear on the metrics they are measured on, set up reporting systems to track these KPIs, and proactively highlight success stories when their initiatives drive positive outcomes or receive praise.
To align enablement programs with organization and industry best practices, leverage thought leadership, engage with external subject matter experts, and tap into GTM leaders’ experiences to ensure learning is both accurate and rooted in the team’s reality within the organization.
Remember that it’s okay to not know everything
When doubting your capabilities while trying to support a diverse set of field roles, remember that no one has had every job in a company and it is okay to dig in to learn more while addressing weak spots.
For example, if you don't understand the nuances of roles in the customer experience organization, then review role descriptions, get to know the teams and their leaders, and take advantage of internet resources that discuss key challenges the role may face.
Additionally, seeking feedback early and often can help identify gaps, while building a personal development plan to systematically identify and close those gaps.
Not only is it okay to continually learn and expand one's skills, the GTM landscape is constantly evolving and staying up to date on industry trends and best practices can make anyone more confident over time.
Building an enablement network
Regardless of where one’s imposter syndrome stems from, it is also good to consider investing in and building up a strong enablement network.
The enablement community is ever-growing with an abundance of resources to learn from and people to connect with. Groups like the Sales Enablement Collective, for example, provide a great way to get in touch with peers and mentors in the space.
- A strong community
- Clear role expectations
- A firm personal and role enablement value story
- Best practice-based programs
You’ll be well-positioned to overcome, and even avoid, the common experience of imposter syndrome.
Join 7,000+ of your enablement peers in our Slack community like Katie suggests, and start learning from the community and building your network today.