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Jun 09, 2016

Approx. 5 min. read

Why Letting Employees Be Themselves is Good for Business

Allowing employees creative freedom breeds trust – and employee happiness.

Allowing employees creative freedom breeds trust – and employee happiness.

        “Build good people and you’ll draw more good people. That’s what makes good growth”                                                                                    Warren Whitlock

We often struggle between finding a way to do what makes us happy and what we do for a living. The truth is, no matter what we do or where we choose to work, the best way to feel happy about our job is to be somewhere where we can become better versions of ourselves.

As author and public speaker Seth Godin has stated: “Leadership is the art of giving people a platform for spreading ideas at work”. Many companies around the world have failed to become relevant in the market and succeed, despite having an incredible product or service to offer. What we can all learn from this is that recruiting top talent (if you are able to do so) does not guarantee that your company will move forward. Instead, you need to help this talent to become the best they can and support them to turn their ideas into something real and profitable for your organization.

How to Invest in Your Employees

But how can you build your own top talent? What happens if you invest resources in developing your employees professionally and they leave? Or even worse, what if you don’t invest in them, and they stay?

There are a few, but effective points to consider on how to develop your employees into talented, efficient, and proactive minds that will take your company to the next level. Do keep in mind that the whole company culture should be built towards this approach.


1) Employees' Personal Identities Come First

A recent study published by Daniel M. Cable of the London Business School, Harvard Professor Francesca Gino and UNC’s Brad Staats, compared personal identity with organizational identity in employment relationships. According to the results, customers were more satisfied with employees who have been taught to work in their own way; i.e. the employee-centric orientation.

Meet David from Southwest Airlines:

How can you come up with innovative ideas such as his? Research has proven that brainstorming is not as effective as you might think. Instead, you should let your employees individually weigh ideas on what they can do before getting together with the rest to bring forth suggestions.

The good thing about being yourself is that it adds a touch of originality to what you do, and that authenticity is what makes people follow, engage and stay tuned for what’s coming next. Perhaps the best recent example is one that carries a name you might have already heard: Candace Payne, a.k.a. Chewbacca Mom.

In just one week, this housewife’s life was turned upside down with just one Live Facebook video (currently the most viewed of all times with over 150 million views) that she posted, which shows the gift she got for herself on her birthday. The joy and happiness she expressed and the fact that she was being herself made everything so real that it became impossible not to be positively affected and spread that feeling to the next person.


2) Separate Administrative Hours from Productive Hours

Recognized expert Leslie A. Perlow points out 2 important things in her study about time management that there are the “real hours”, during which employees put their knowledge, thoughts and concentration into practice. Then there are the “other work” hours related to meetings, phone calls, conferences and e-mailing. The best way to reach maximum potential is to separate these two, so that you are able to do your job uninterrupted, and still have time for the other stuff. At the end of the day, you will be leaving your office feeling less exhausted and with the notion that you have contributed more to your responsibilities.


3) Start With the Start

Employees do not give their best when they feel anxious, and why would they? A recent study by Deloitte, Uncovering Talent: A New Model of Inclusion, shows that 61% of employees cover their true identities or personalities in their workplace.

As redundant as this may sound, everything should start from the beginning. A fantastic article from MIT Sloan Management Review reveals that applying one’s personal strengths to work is a much more rewarding strategy than subordination to the organizational identity.

By encouraging employees to apply their personal strengths at work, companies can help new hires become more connected to their colleagues, more engaged in their work and also more likely to stay. For example at Wipro, leaders always ask newcomers to reflect on a specific time, at work or at home, when they have been acting the way they were “born to act”.


Allow the Creative Space to Work Freely

Let your employees be themselves and provide them with a proper work environment that allows them to max out their responsibilities and feel happy about it. Each person has different ways of doing things. So allow everyone to work as they would like to, instead of trying to make everybody act, work and think in the same way, and the results will speak for themselves.

Written by

Jose Manuel Arrias Zuleta

Jose Manuel Arrias Zuleta

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