Authentic employees bring in value
you want your team members to think and act like the rest of your team
and bring in the same or similar value or do you want them to have what
you don’t have so that you have more collective power as a team? Do we
consider differences as an asset?
The world is fast paced, consumer tastes keep changing frequently,
competition makes you outdated pretty fast and good employee retention
has become more challenging than ever before.
As human beings, each employee is unique and authentic in many ways
and when nurtured can offer real business benefits. We all look for the
right ‘organizational and cultural fit’ when hiring new employees;
questions are asked to ascertain and affirm that the new employees can
jell well with the existing employees for harmony. Does accepting and
encouraging authenticity help the business?
Living with conventional wisdom, Sri Lankan businesses rarely have
promoted or invested in employee authenticity as a major competitive
advantage, a value-creating factor and driver of growth in the dynamic
field of business.
The modern global management thinking has tested and concluded that
it is a crucial asset worth building, hence widely practiced. Much of
our mental energy, our ideas, our passions, our physical effort and our
time are deployed at work.
Authenticity at work
The work we do goes some way to describe who we are, and what we
stand for. The very same innovation and creativity we preach all the
time can get stifled when authenticity is discouraged.
Most of us engage in self-presentation in the workplace at least
We actively manage our behaviour, emotions, or the way we are
perceived by co-workers and bosses.
We do it for a variety of reasons. Some people feel they cannot
freely express emotions at work, others believe they cannot share their
sense of humour, and still others feel they must ‘have it all together’
or risk hurting their reputation or credibility.
What does it mean to be authentic at work?
Think of authenticity as the degree to which one is true to one’s own
personality, spirit or character, despite external pressure, enforced or
shaped by the legacy practices of co-workers.
People are themselves, at work as they are in their private life.
They recognize who they are, without pretending to be something
different, without wearing a mask to make themselves more palatable to
others, and without suppressing their own important styles and values.
They bring the whole self to work ‘every day’ within which the ‘best
of each individual’ comes out. The prize that this offers at individual
level is significant. It includes greater levels of engagement,
well-being, productivity, and commitment. People have high levels of
motivation by applying their own thoughts and experience to the task in
They take pride in the work they do and leverage their particular
strengths to the job. They also learn much more due to a deeper personal
application. Do your employees believe that being genuine creates
stronger and better relationships with customers and co-workers because
of a greater understanding of one another and a higher level of trust?
Although employee authenticity boosts productivity and creates a
positive work environment, it is equally important that leaders welcome
authenticity from their employees.
Creating an open-minded and accepting environment in which
differences in perspective and opinions are encouraged to set the
foundation for an authentic workplace. Employees should be encouraged to
express themselves and not simply follow the crowd, because differences
in viewpoints often lead to innovative, novel solutions.
Creating a workplace that is inclusive of diverse employees is highly
dependent upon leaders’ behaviour. Inclusive leaders must model comfort
with diversity, alter rules for acceptable behaviour to ensure wide
application, create opportunities for dialogue about and across
differences, demonstrate an interest in learning and be authentic about
their own challenges and triumphs to encourage authenticity in others
and to ensure that employees feel a sense of group acceptance and value
for their individual uniqueness.
In essence, employees who feel included are more likely to experience
greater self-worth. Where there is greater authenticity, organizations
will adapt more quickly and much more effectively to the volatile
circumstances of the operating environment. This is a ‘win-win’
situation that is worth fighting for and investing in, to build
While differences between people can stimulate progress and
innovation, large discrepancies or non-value creating behaviour have to
be managed to really benefit from the concept of authentic employee.