Authenticity In The Workplace Fosters Performance And Happiness
We are happier, and therefore more effective, when we can be ourselves.
Plasticity Labs, a company providing a scientific approach to employee engagement, and a team from Wilfrid Laurier University (Canada) explored the benefits of authenticity in the workplace. They conducted qualitative and quantitative studies with more than two hundred employees.
72% of participants said they feel authentic at work. But the time it took them to feel this way varied significantly: Three months for 60% of them, nine months for 22%, ten to twelve months for 9%, and more than a year for 9%. Moreover, the people who take the longest time to be their true selves at work end up sharing less about themselves than their colleagues.
Employees who report being authentic in the workplace have higher job satisfaction and engagement, a stronger sense of community, and lower stress. They highlight two reasons why authenticity in the workplace improves their productivity and overall performance: They spend less time and energy censoring themselves and create stronger relationships with their colleagues and customers.
Of course, not every participant in this study shares this opinion: 10% of respondents consider that authenticity at work has negative effects because it generates conflicts between incompatible personalities. It is a real risk that all managers should be conscious of and monitor very closely.
Still, being authentic in the workplace fosters more trusted exchanges with others than the projection of a fake identity. This is probably the reason why 75% of employees surveyed in the study say they want their colleagues to share more about their true selves.
This ties to one of my management principles: Individuals must get along on a personal level to best work together as a team. Otherwise it is difficult for them to really trust each other in difficult times.
It belongs to the team leader to set the example by being authentic and never giving the impression that they are blaming an employee for being her or his true self, except of course when she or he is jeopardizing the team.