THE BENEFITS OF AUTHENTICITY IN THE WORKPLACE
As someone in a leadership role, I knew that I wanted to create an environment where every team member felt welcomed and valued. Today, I can say the key to making this a reality has been supporting and fostering authenticity for our team members. Sounds easy – right? Well, before making any changes to the business, we first needed to address what authenticity is.Here’s what I’ve learned:
WHAT DOES AUTHENTICITY MEAN?
Being authentic means that we can be true to ourselves and show who we are in our lives. It means being worthy of acceptance and being true to our personalities. However, being authentic at work can be a bit more complex because everyone needs to strike a delicate balance between being your authentic self and behaving within social norms. We all behave somewhat differently at home than we do at work and that’s okay. The point is that we should feel respected and empowered enough in the workplace to let those parts of our personalities that align with who we are no matter where we are shine through. That’s what makes the difference and helps us grow as colleagues and dare I say it – friends.
HOW TEAM MEMBERS CAN BRING THEIR AUTHENTIC SELVES TO WORK
In my experience, new team members will sometimes avoid discussing how they feel about certain things with management or even other team members because of the fear that their opinions won’t be respected or well-received. Our team members can bring their true selves to work when they get past this fear and see that sharing opinions is a part of our dynamic and it will generally result in something positive. Whether it’s a change in company policy or just gaining a better understanding of each other, the result is usually beneficial to everyone and helps us move forward as a company. I also make it a point to encourage our team members to discuss projects that they’re passionate about and look for ways that as a company we can support them.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO FOSTER AN ATMOSPHERE OF AUTHENTICITY
There’s no one right way to promote authenticity — because we’re all different, it means that everyone has their way of being unique and real. It all starts with leadership. Here are just a few things that you can do to become a more authentic leader.
IMPLEMENT AN INCLUSIVE LEADERSHIP STYLE
A big part of being authentic boils down to being inclusive — without feeling that they belong, your employees will find it hard to feel safe and secure within the workplace. When it comes to fostering positive company culture, it’s important to show inclusive behaviors, such as:
● Showing empathy for how your team members are feeling
● Recognition for a job well done
● Making social connections by engaging in open and honest conversation
● Encouraging – but not mandating – participation in group activities
There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution, so try and think of ways to personalize your approach.
ESTABLISH SAFETY AND SECURITY
When a team member feels safe, they can come to work as their authentic selves. While it can be a challenge to establish psychological safety in virtual or hybrid environments, there are ways in which you can work out some form of solution. One way to do this is to roll out an employee engagement survey, where you can then create a plan with goals in place to help you achieve the most welcoming workplace possible according to the results of the survey.
LOOK FOR FEEDBACK
Your employees want to be heard, so be sure that your managers are asking for feedback — this can take place during the performance review process or one-on-one meetings. Make sure that your employees are heard, and that something is done after you get their feedback. This will show them that you value their perspective and are invested in their success.
PROMOTE AUTHENTICITY AT WORK
Apart from these ways, it’s also important to keep in constant communication with your team members. This can start as early as the interview or recruiting process. The point is to keep it going over time and refine it as needed based on business and cultural shifts. In my experience, fostering authenticity in the workplace is our greatest achievement because our team members are truly our most valued asset.