Earlier in the year, there was an article that appeared in online business magazine Forbes that resulted in a lot of chatter around our office. As we eased ourselves into the new year and with the recruitment market becoming more active in recent weeks, we have been reflecting on the main points from the article in our conversations with candidates.
The article focussed on Jennifer Sey, Chief Marketing Officer at Levi Strauss & Co, who wrote a book and had it published, no easy feet in itself, but during that time she kept the whole thing quiet from her work colleagues. Which raised the question, are we bringing our whole self to work?
We’re all guilty at times of maintaining different personas, particularly in a work setting where we might display different behaviours or emotions towards our co-workers and bosses, than we would for example with our friends or family. We tell ourselves that by showing our true personality, we may hinder our careers in some way, or perhaps, we just like to compartmentalise our work and personal life.
There are some very serious reasons why people are uncomfortable being their true self in the workplace, which goes a lot deeper than simply putting on a professional bravado while at work. Workplace discrimination, however, is for another blog…
As the Forbes article points to, being your whole self at work means you’ll be bringing a different perspective to your role and this “...can lead to more creative, effective solutions” or cognitive diversity which is particularly useful for teams solving complex problems.
There is an increasing amount of research to demonstrate that the more authentic you are at work, the higher your job satisfaction and engagement and ultimately, the better you’ll perform. The argument being that you’ll spend less time and energy monitoring your own behaviour which frees up time to spend on things that add value to your role. As well as the benefit of creating real relationships with people, which leads to greater levels of trust.
The challenge is how you create a workplace that welcomes and fosters authenticity, which can start with three easy steps.
- As with any element of workplace culture, you need to start at the top – with authentic leadership achieved through honesty, openness and being vulnerable.
- Creating a workplace that encourages individuals to express differences in thought and opinions – different ways of looking at problems makes for better group decision-making.
- As early as the recruitment process, re-think what hiring for the “right fit” means. Hiring based on likeness can sometimes force people to conform with existing ways of thinking.
As an employee, you can also make a commitment to sharing life experiences at work that resonate with who you are as a person. Yes, there may still be variations in the “work you” and the “home you”, but ultimately both have to truly reflect who you are as a person.
If you are looking for assistance on how you are cultivating your employer brand, or you are a senior leader looking for guidance on your leadership style, get in touch with us.
The Decipher Team
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