Today’s topic is going to be about keeping your company authentic. For those of you who have read my previous blog postings, you know that I value companies that welcome individuality and are open to innovative ideas. Also, I enjoy companies that seem to be a little more human and a little less business. Although I’ve mentioned these values a few times throughout my writing, I haven’t fully given you an explanation of why I feel this way. This posting will let me shed some light on the subject.
• Allowing your employees to be more like themselves can increase productivity. Have you ever worked at a company that had strict criteria on how the employees were to represent themselves? You need to say the right things, write e-mails with a certain professional tone, and make sure your shirt doesn’t have a single wrinkle. Of course, some organizations need this level of professionalism to gain trust from their clients but too much of it can hinder performance. If your employees don’t naturally do these things, then they have to use their mental capacity to train themselves to do it. Training yourself to be something against your nature for 40+ hours a week can be exhausting. Not to mention, the effort you’re putting towards doing that is taking away from your work.
• Your employees will be happier. I’m not perfect, but neither is anyone else. To work for an organization that requires constant perfection can be extremely stressful. Life happens, we’re human, and people make honest mistakes. To work for a company that leaves no room for mistakes can cause employees to worry and doubt every little thing they do. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to spend a good portion of my day scared that the next thing I say or do will be my last at the company. That’s just a miserable way to go about life and eventually it will wear on them, both inside and outside of the workplace. Their unhappiness may start to reflect in the quality of their work.
• Employees will feel more comfortable about offering ideas and suggestions. If your company was a little more open, a little less stuffy, and a little less strict, your employees may feel more comfortable offering contributing proposals during meetings. Creating an open and welcoming atmosphere can make employees feel better about freely expressing opinions, new ideas, and suggestions. If you don’t create this environment, employees could feel less inclined to speak up and you could potentially miss something of value.
• Individualism can produce original solutions. I think some of the best companies I worked for are the ones that celebrate the individual and encouraged them to produce inventive ideas to demonstrate to the company. Employees loved the fact that they could use their personal experience and knowledge to present these suggestions. They gained a sense of accountability and became more engaged in the company’s well-being. Additionally, they found the company’s willingness to listen, consider, and offer feedback about these ideas to be motivating. They appreciated a company that offered this participative communication structure rather than companies dictating how things would be and expecting employees to follow without question.
• You’ll gain trust from your employees. We aren’t robots, so it’s hard to trust someone who only communicates in an overly-formal, overly-professional, mechanical way. It’s hard to know what truly is going through that person’s mind and it’s hard to understand the meaning behind it all. Communication like that just seems closed and does not engage the other party in a useful way. Think about how you came to the point of trusting your friends, significant others, and family members. I highly doubt it was because of the “stimulating”, calculated conversations. You don’t get to know people from conversations masked with perfection. If you don’t get to know them, you also may not be able to trust them. To have an organization that employees don’t trust really isn’t going to do anyone any good. Try to keep it as real as possible.
• You could reduce turn-over. If senior management is too-tight lipped about the organization, it could create a cause of concern for employees. As an employee, nothing is worse than being kept in the dark or out-of-the-loop…except being kept that way during the recession we’ve been experiencing. With layoffs, terminations, and failing businesses, it’s best to offer some honest information to your employees. This will help employees know where they stand in the company. It will also allow them to know where the company stands in the business world. Additionally, it can ease minds and lower turn-over caused by employees’ mentality of “getting out before it goes under.”
• You’ll pique interest from outsiders. Think of some of the most interesting companies in business: Google, Apple, Zappos, and LinkedIn come to mind. These companies are notorious for their company culture. They celebrate and own their uniqueness and won’t conform to oppressive corporate structures other companies have had in the past. Because of the “realness” they bring to their company, candidates want to work there, employees are rating it the best place to work, and other companies want to adopt their corporate style.
I understand that business is business. I also know certain companies and jobs need to have an extreme level of professionalism. However, sometimes it can be too much and cause companies’ to be hindered rather than grow. Your employees are your biggest assets and you need to treat them as such. As I’ve said before, the companies that will dominate will be the ones that can find a way to keep the workforce working towards a collective goal but still welcome individualism and authenticity. Consider some of these points and even test them out. You may find that employee morale and productivity will increase.