How to encourage authenticity in the workplace

By September 27, 2013Develop
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The majority of employees cover up some part of their personality while at work. This can lead to lower productivity and disengagement. Therefore, it is critical to promote authenticity in the workplace. Authenticity and “being oneself” in the workplace is a fine balance of letting one’s inner essence shine, while staying consistent with the organization’s culture. Here are some ways to encourage employees to be their true selves, while keeping the peace in the office.

Foster an environment of respect towards others

Perhaps some of us have worked in places where certain managers have been known to “fly off the handle” raising their voices, berating and belittling employees. Believe it or not, some people are able to get away with this type of behaviour with the excuse “Well, that’s just my personality. I’m a passionate person.” No. The moment where a lack of respect towards another employee is shown, no matter where they sit on the food chain, it stops becoming about “being yourself” and more about “the collective emotional well-being of the team and/or organization.”

Done correctly, encouraging respectfulness with a zero-tolerance policy towards aggressive and hostile behavior should automatically temper the parts ourselves that could be unintentionally offensive or hurtful to others.

Leverage employee onboarding processes

For new employees, in can often be hard to gauge the personality and style of their boss and their team. By implementing a one-on-one lunch with their boss, or a welcome-to-the-team lunch, the new employee will learn about their new colleague(s) in a neutral atmosphere where everyone tends to let their guard down a little more.

On the topic of onboarding, my most recent experience, involving two full days of training, was an incredibly helpful one, but not just in the way that most people would think. The individual running the onboarding has been with the company for years and is absolutely a reflection of the company’s culture (disclosure: I AM talking about Workopolis!) and I was able to get a broader sense of the organization’s “style”.

Personal and professional development training

While self-awareness is ultimately on the onus of the individual, it might be well worth investing in personal and professional development training to nudge that journey along. Courses in business communication, cross-cultural sensitivity, working with different personality types, and conflict resolution can give employees the basic tools to interact with each other in the workplace and they can learn how to adapt these tools to their own personal style.


Whether informal or formal, mentoring and coaching can help an employee navigate the workplace, while building confidence in their strengths. Mid-year and year-end performance appraisals are standard and should be taken as an opportunity to “check-in,” but when the situation calls for it, feedback should be given immediately.

Respectfulness, onboarding programs, training and mentorship are all great opportunities for employees within a company to learn how to play up their individual strengths while working in a team environment.