28 Feb Yes, authenticity is important!
Over the weekend, LinkedIn published an article, “Your best employee is in sweatpants.” You can read it here: https://www.linkedin.com/news/story/your-best-employee-is-in-sweatpants-4676457/
How or why that can be a surprise to anyone, I’m not sure. As is so often the case with the LI pundit crowd, there were some who wanted to make it clear that they were not so gauche as to work in sweatpants – Heaven forbid! 🙄 And others who took issue with the idea that great employees also use curse words and “slack off” from time to time. This comes from an article in Business Insider, which I will link to below. Though apparently for now, this article is only available to premium users or subscribers.
I also saw at least one response from someone who appeared to be downright offended by the idea that people might use dirty words in the privacy of their own home and I laughed out loud.
This story links back to another one that was published on the platform a couple of months ago titled, “Make psychological safety routine.”
Umm, yeah. No kidding. Way past time for that. Some people do not want to be on 100 Zoom calls per month. Some employees are neuro-divergent and may not feel comfortable always being on camera or feeling as though they are in an ambush culture, i.e., at any moment in time, they can be doing their work and feeling like they have a handle on what needs to be done when suddenly, the boss decides they just hafta hafta have a Zoom call that 100% could have been an email.
There also must be a complete and total movement away from a culture of punishment. As Monica Fike writes in the summary from the above-mentioned LinkedIn article, “Psychological safety feels like a weighty term, but Harvard Business Review defines it simply as ‘the belief that you won’t be punished when you make a mistake.’ A HR leader at Novartis says psychological safety is not a ‘nice-to-have,’ but rather a ‘competitive advantage.'”
Managers who want to run their departments like they are Captain Bligh and the company is the HMS Bounty are not gonna make it. Employees will not put up with that mess, nor should they.
In the blurb for “Your best employee is in sweatpants,” editor Ruiqi Chen writes, “…Research shows people are most engaged and creative when they feel comfortable and ‘psychologically safe’ in the workplace. In today’s world, that could look like wearing sweatpants, taking breaks, cursing and behaving authentically all around. Offering employees flexibility can also improve their overall well-being, researchers say.”
Yes, authenticity IS important! As an introvert in a highly extroverted field, when I worked for other people, I so very often felt like a stranger in an even stranger land. Oy. I’ll never forget having a conversation with my friend, Maria, who is Belarusian, about the social, extroverted hoo-ha I was expected to participate in and how I often felt punished for being a serious employee. In fact, I was once pulled aside and told, “You intimidate people because you don’t hang out for chit-chat enough and you take your work seriously.” To this, Maria replied, “I don’t understand any of that at all. Over here, to be considered a сур’ёзны работнік (serious employee) is a high compliment. If your boss sees you as serious, that is great.” For me, taking my work seriously and always keeping an eye on the end goal comes naturally to me. Forced small talk and pizza parties do not. 🤷♀️ That’s just who I am.
Likewise, for other people, water cooler chit-chat might feel totally wonderful. An important part of cultivating a company culture of flexibility and safety is to be respectful of your employees and ASK without judgement how they wish to be interacted with. That introvert who hates Zoom and random stop-and-chats? Leave her alone. That extrovert who says he wants to lead a (100% voluntary) social event? Cool.
Cut out the culture of surveillance and punishment as though you are running a prison and see what happens!