Self-efficacy Part 2 Background

Concepts and their meaning

Everyone is talking about self-empowerment, self-determination, self-this and self-that. It’s time to clarify the terminology.  

Psychological safety in the workplace is currently a hot topic in HR management. We tend to deal with these terms on an operational level, among adults. 

But all these buzzwords belong to the topic of self: who am I? The ancient question of humanity, and the origin of all religious and philosophical concepts. This is why we should take a closer look at these basic components of the self and their influence on people’s behavior. 

Definition of terms

A person works from the inside out. Companies should not have any influence on the internal relationship of the individual, but they can indeed influence the external – as this is part of their responsibility in HR. As this is a broad field and a subject for discussion, let’s start with a clarification of the terms: 

  • Self-knowledge: The knowledge of myself that arises from my observations of my thoughts, feelings, and actions. 
  • Self-worth: The value I place on myself as the object of my reflection. 
  • Self-awareness: An understanding of what I know about myself. 
  • Self-esteem: My overall evaluation of my worth or value as an independent being. 

The first terms are primarily about the internal relationship to oneself, about being. 
The next terms refer to the external relationship to oneself, i.e., acting.

  • Self-assurance: A sense of ease from the secure knowledge of myself. 
  • Self-confidence: My actions are based on my trust in my abilities. 
  • Self-efficacy: A realistic assessment of my abilities, based on my experiences (successes and insights) to overcome challenges and new tasks. 
  • Self-determination: Based on my knowledge of myself, my abilities and my experiences, I can shape my life with confidence. 
  • Self-empowerment: Finding the strength for my further development from within myself.  

We see that to shape our lives, we need a foundation of self-knowledge, and self-worth. From the very beginning of our lives, these factors are shaped, initially through our environment, and later – hopefully – mainly by ourselves. As adults, we have learned that our self-worth does not depend on others, but is determined by our inner relationship. At best, this relationship is healthy and balanced.

Ideal and reality

The ideal situation would be as described above, but this hardly ever happens in reality. The ultimate utopia would be a society of intrinsically confident people working together for the good of all. But this is not often the case. 

Organizations certainly do work to ensure the well-being of their employees. Once measures aimed at the external well-being of the workforce, such as benefits, well-being, etc., have been implemented companies must turn to the internal lives of their employees—and psychological safety. Do we assume that the result of providing psychological safety – ensuring our employees are empowered, self-assured, and self-confident – would be intrinsic motivation, performance, and loyalty to the company? A debatable topic, to be sure.

What this means in practice

People leave managers, not companies.
Workplace wellbeing comes from one place, and one place only – a positive culture.

(Harvard Business Review)

If this is the case, then everyday behavior at work is decisive, and this places extremely high demands on the interpersonal skills of managers and employees. They must demonstrate professional authority, and be of upstanding character. In addition – and this is an essential point – they must deal responsibly with power and each other, and be committed to maintaining high ethical values. These are all elements of a positive company culture. 

  • Is that realistic? Quite simply – no. 
  • Is human perfection achievable? Another simple – no. 
  • But can you strive for it? Yes. Absolutely. 
  • Can we improve our lives and the lives of everyone else as a result? Yes. At least, a little.

And that’s a good start. It’s a joint effort that benefits everyone. 

What we can do to help at Unequity: We ensure the comprehensive communication of Total Rewards programs. By people, for people, with expertise and empathy. Because we are a people-to-people communications agency, and we live and work according to these values. 

Food for Thoughts, by Michaela Pods-Aue, michaela[@]


If you would like more information about this or any other topic, or are interested in a consultation, please get in touch.

Your contact person

Share this page directly: