What is illegitimacy syndrome?

The illegitimacy syndrome can lead to job burnout if the employee tries to compensate with more work for what he perceives as his incompetence.

Last update: 13 January, 2022

Have you heard of the illegitimacy syndrome? In some companies there is the figure of the «todista», which is a way of referring to those people who have generalist profiles and that they are capable of responding to different topics.

However, what for some appears as an advantage, in other cases it usually represents an Achilles heel. They consider that they can understand and talk about certain issues, but they do not get to know them in depth. We tell you more about this syndrome, which is summed up in “knowing a little about everything”. Keep reading!

What is the illegitimacy syndrome?

Illegitimacy syndrome is more frequent in work environments. It refers to those cases in which the person feels insufficient and inexperienced by having a “panoramic” view of various issues.

In most cases, it originates from generalist profiles, oriented to multiple interests, which translate into a varied resume. This triggers the person to feel inferior or disadvantaged because of it.

That is, on certain occasions, the person feels that they do not have enough experience to advise at a detailed level. You know you understand about many subjects, but at a superficial level.

For many, it is a synonym for “imposter syndrome”. However, the latter is characterized by an attributional style, where the person explains their employment situation by external factors.

For example, it is common to use arguments of the type “I’m lucky”, “I’m here because I have charisma”, among other things that ignore and invalidate its virtues. The illegitimacy syndrome is rather explained by the fact that feel insufficient or incompetent before a generalist profile.

The illegitimacy syndrome makes the person think that they are insufficient and inexperienced because they know about different topics, but not at an expert level.

Some current labor trends

Currently, the choice of vocational projects is very different from a few years ago. People are often more motivated to explore their different interests, so they “jump” from one formation to another to enrich their cultural capital.

At the same time, many are increasingly considering reconciling their work and professional life with their interests and free time. The same thing happens in job searches and in staying in jobs. Right now, human resources areas are facing the challenge of retaining talent.

When talking about illegitimacy syndrome, it is important to be careful. In certain work areas, having creative, different, global and systemic thinking is seen as an opportunity. The person is able to establish relationships and make connections between different aspects.

However, there will also be room for other positions that require a very advanced level of knowledge. In these cases, the positions will be more specific and experts. In short, knowing a little about everything does not have to be a negative thing, quite the opposite. It can be considered a value and something positive, depending on the area where it is required and used.

How can the illegitimacy syndrome affect employees?

Regarding the way in which the illegitimacy syndrome can impact the performance of employees, there is no uniform answer, since Each person can manifest it in different ways.

There are those who can assume a defensive attitude believing that each question that is asked is to leave them exposed and in evidence. While there will be others who see observations as a growth opportunity.

In any case, it can cause anxiety, discomfort or excessive insecurity, since the affected person feels alert most of the time. In fact, some employees may work twice as hard or overwork in an attempt to compensate for what they perceive as a shortcoming. Over time, this can lead to a burnout labor.

Some recommendations to deal with the illegitimacy syndrome

Ignoring the illegitimacy syndrome should not be an option. Without proper intervention, it can be problematic for sufferers. For this reason, it is worth putting the following into practice:

  • Work on your own emotions. Address insecurities about what makes us “valuable.” The new job market also recognizes and values ​​all people’s experiences (not just work experiences), as well as so-called “soft skills”. Therefore, everything adds up, not just the collection of skills.
  • avoid comparing. All collaborators have something of their own and particular to contribute to a team. Therefore, we must try to form good work teams and complement skills.
  • Work acceptance. That’s why we were chosen for that job. You have to recognize your own strengths, achievements and weaknesses. It is also good to take advantage of weaknesses to train, train and grow, so that it allows you to leave your comfort zone.
  • Accept that we do not know everything in depth and that it is not necessary to do so. That is, learn to ask for help when we do not have the tools to solve it on our own. Change the idea of ​​«I’m missing, I don’t know…” for “I could learn it, I can improve.”

Now, from the human resources areas they will have to take into account the work motivation to avoid the syndrome of boreout or boredom. It is important to coordinate with management positions the appropriate tasks depending on the employees.

In addition, training plans can serve to motivate the employee and make it grow in those weaknesses or points that must be improved.

Accepting the abilities, skills and weaknesses is the first step so that the illegitimacy syndrome does not become an obstacle.

Disarm the “once and for all” prejudice

There is still a prejudice regarding those people who choose to work in different areas, even opposite ones, in relation to their first job and vocational choice. Of course, as we live in society, this prejudice is also sustained and lived by whoever makes that choice.

Nowadays, people allow themselves to explore their interests a little more, since they also there is a greater variety of disciplinary fields that surpass that handful of traditional professions.

On the other hand, the academic times are higher than the real possibilities of a person who must join the labor market. Due to this, there are shorter courses and trainings that allow you to acquire short-term tools to generate money.

In this sense, It is a time to think and question those beliefs built around work. This in order to make a cross between the real and the possible and to allow himself to change course.

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