Employee self-confidence : an exploration of interventions

Murtagh, Michelle Johanne (2019) Employee self-confidence : an exploration of interventions. (DoBPsych thesis), Kingston University, .


A large body of research exists attributing the construct of self-confidence to a range of individual and organisational workplace outcomes. However, a synthesis of the evidence base exploring the existence, impact and efficacy of self-confidence interventions in the workplace had not yet been completed. Hence, as the first phase of this doctorate, a systematic literature review was undertaken to identify, collate and critically assess related scholarly research. Despite the everyday and common use of the term by the general population, academically, the construct of self-confidence remains misunderstood and confused, particularly with regards to its interrelationships with the constructs of self-efficacy and self-esteem. Whilst some researchers assert that self-confidence, self-esteem and self-efficacy are synonymous, others point to conceptual differences between these three constructs. Therefore, for the purposes of this Systematic Literature Review, the decision was made to explore all three constructs under the umbrella term of self-confidence. An initial search of four academic databases identified 10,537 titles linking self-confidence to workplace interventions. Of these, nine published empirical papers met the inclusion criteria. Despite the variable quality of the papers and the heterogeneity in the design and implementation approach used, some initial evidence to support to the benefit of related training and non-training self-confidence interventions in the workplace was identified (with at least one of the dependent variables demonstrating a statistically significant change in seven of the nine studies reviewed). In terms of work-related performance outcomes, these included improvements in: organisational commitment; job satisfaction; selection interview performance; psychological capital and leadership capabilities. However, due to the heterogeneous nature of the intervention designs used, no firm conclusions could be drawn as to which interventions are the most effective at developing employee self-confidence. In their most recent survey, the International Coaching Federation (ICF) established that “increased self-confidence” (ICF, 2017 p.9) was the second most commonly cited reason individuals gave for pursuing executive coaching. With evidence suggesting that executive coaching is an effective mechanism in the enhancement of self-confidence, the link between the two fields is firmly established. However, the growing field of executive coaching is not without its issues, with the lack of standardisation of practitioner approach having been recently highlighted as a key area of concern. Hence, in direct response to the challenges raised by Grover and Furnham (2016 p.36) for prospective researchers to “engage multidisciplinary audiences” to develop “best practice guidelines”, the second phase of this doctorate, sought to converge the field of executive coaching with that of self-confidence to produce a framework of guidance for use by executive coaches supporting employees with low self-confidence. A four-staged Delphi study methodology, involving a panel of 38 multidisciplinary experts, was applied over a period of six months. Three separate aims were achieved simultaneously. Firstly, experts consensually amalgamated the two fields of executive coaching and selfconfidence; secondly, a relevant and focused framework of guidance for use by an executive coach in the support of employees with low self-confidence was created; and thirdly, a foundational evidence base for use as helpful precursor to more sophisticated analytical and predictive future research was also developed.

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