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Authenticity – Bring Your “Self” to Work

3 Things You Must Start Doing When You Become a Team Leader

“Just be yourself” - you’ve probably heard this throughout your life.  Although cliché, it is great advice. Being yourself helps you to avoid burnout, form meaningful relationships, and even perform better. But being your true self is easier said than done in some situations. One area where you may struggle with authenticity is at work.

It can be particularly difficult for individuals with marginalized identities because they too often face consequences for being themselves. Historically, there have been strict written and unwritten rules for how to conduct one's self professionally, with those rules not always being fair to everyone. But it seems that many of those rules are now being questioned, as the majority of us have been working from home for the last couple of years.

In her Ted talk entitled “The Myth of Bringing Your Full, Authentic Self to Work,” Jodi-Ann Burey uncovers some of the challenges she has faced as a Black woman in the professional world. A quote that stands out from her talk is, “Without accountability to examine the systems of bias and power, the call for authenticity fails.”

Nobody, no matter their race, sexuality, gender, age, or any other part of their identity, should ever be made to feel like they must hide who they are in order to succeed in the workplace. We will discuss some ways that leaders and employees can make space for authenticity for all workers later.

But first, let’s get familiar with what it means to be authentic and why it is so beneficial.

What is Authenticity?

What does “just be yourself” mean at work? It doesn’t mean that you must act exactly the same way throughout all of your interactions, as that is unrealistic. Nor does it mean that you need to share every detail of your personal life. At times it may be necessary to protect your boundaries and keep aspects of yourself separate from certain settings or people. And that’s perfectly okay.

Authenticity is simply when our internal selves (our values, motivations, and interests) align with our behavior. This can look very different depending on your preferences and work style. Cultivating authenticity is a lifelong practice of learning about yourself, and it requires experimentation.  You might try something and then realize that it didn’t feel right. When this happens, you learn something new about yourself and might be more comfortable being a bit more open in the future.

Benefits of Authenticity

Avoid Burnout

Hiding your authentic self in the workplace is likely contributing to burnout more than you may realize. The effort you expend trying to control your work image is costly — performing all day at work is exhausting. Once that pressure comes off, you free up so much energy to put into your work. You will also probably notice that you have more energy to spend on developing other aspects of your life, like your relationships. This brings us to the next benefit...

Form Meaningful Relationships

You might think it’s easier to put up a barrier while you’re at work and separate your social life from your work life. But you most likely spend a good portion of your days at work, so being able to have those strong connections at work will be extremely beneficial. The importance of having meaningful relationships cannot be stressed enough. Studies have found having strong connections to be related to better job performance, and even to increased longevity.

 Perform Better

When you constantly put on a mask at work and feel like you have to stay silent on topics that are important to you, you will likely feel stressed and disconnected from your work. However, once that mask comes off, you’ll be better motivated to engage with and commit to your work and you can watch your performance soar. In an interview about authenticity at work, Human Resources and Recruitment Practitioner Madison Butler explains “When you empower people to be exactly who they’re intending to be in the world, you get people who are more focused on what they’re doing every day. If I’m not focused on the sound of my voice, I can really focus on what I’m saying.”

In Google’s research on what makes a successful team, they found psychological safety to be the most important factor. Psychological safety means that people are given the space to communicate openly, and they know that they can make mistakes without facing harsh consequences. Psychological safety is directly related to authenticity. When people know that they won’t be punished for being themselves, they are much more likely to act authentically.

How to Practice Authenticity at Work (and Make Space for Others to Do the Same)

Now that we’ve established what authenticity is and why it’s important, you might be thinking “okay that’s great, but how do I actually do it?” Whether you are in a position of leadership at your organization or not, we’ll go over some strategies to help you encourage authenticity in yourself and others.

As discussed earlier, some work settings might not be particularly conducive to authenticity, especially for those with marginalized identities. That needs to change. Both the companies and the employees will see the benefits of more open and inclusive workspaces. When authenticity is encouraged, it has been shown to lead to better employee motivation, innovation, and productivity, as well as much higher retention rates.

Make Inclusion a Priority

The first step in enabling authenticity for all employees is to make workplaces more inclusive. This starts with strong leaders who encourage empathy and a sense of belonging. Strong leaders also take steps to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout the recruiting process.

If you are not in a position of leadership, you can still play a major role in contributing to a more inclusive work environment. Some actions you can take to achieve this are to speak up if you see fellow coworkers being treated unfairly and to normalize authenticity by doing so as much as you can (without facing consequences).

Practice Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness is a great way to increase your capacity for authenticity. Through mindfulness exercises, people can become more aware of their own values, feelings, and motivations. The more self-aware you are, the easier it will be to act authentically. Many also report that through mindfulness practice, they have learned to live more intentionally and remain more present in their day-to-day lives.

As the great philosopher, Ferris Bueller, once said “Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. It’s easy to get swept up by your daily routine and miss out on quality experiences. Mindfulness helps you avoid this.

Practicing mindfulness can look really different depending on your preferences. It could be daily meditations, mindful walking, taking breaks to check in throughout the day, or anything else you like. There really are no rules to it; just make it work for you!

Push Yourself to Be Vulnerable

Being yourself can be scary, but once you step out of your comfort zone and open up just a little bit, it will start to be much less intimidating. You can start small, maybe by talking about some of the ways that you’ve had to adjust to the pandemic with your coworkers.

Be a Good Listener

Authenticity is very much connected to your relationships. This means that being authentic isn’t only about being yourself, but also about allowing others the space to do the same. Being a good listener pushes you to be more present in the moment, and in doing so you learn more about yourself and others. This is one of the ways that authenticity helps build meaningful relationships.

Having someone give you their full attention, and really listen to what you have to say is a beautiful thing. When you are a good listener, others feel seen and heard, helping to give them the confidence to be themselves.

Conclusion

The very truth of the matter is that you are a complicated combination of your DNA and your experiences. You have a perspective that only you can have. Bringing your full self to everything you do will only further strengthen the confidence you have in yourself. What you may be dismissing is that your unique perspective is so very important to the rest of us. You will think of things that we would not consider – and we can do the same for you. True collaboration is the only way we can solve some of the really challenging problems we encounter – and we all need to bring our full selves for that to be possible.

 

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The Dark Side of Perfectionism

3 Things You Must Start Doing When You Become a Team Leader

The Dark Side of Perfectionism

Perfectionism

Do you often find it tough to relax and unwind?  You work hard, but feel like your best isn’t good enough? Worry that people will look down on you if you aren’t performing flawlessly? All of these are sneaky signs that you might be suffering from a case of perfectionism. Suffering from perfectionism? You heard that right.

As a culture, we uphold perfectionism as a positive quality that we should be proud of. So, it’s no surprise that perfectionism is on the rise. But it is not something we should glorify. In fact, perfectionism can be detrimental to your mental health.

What is Perfectionism?

At this point, you may be confused. How can doing a great job and striving to do your best be a bad thing? Well, let’s back up. Perfectionism goes beyond doing your best. When you suffer from perfectionism, excellence is merely okay, and your best never feels good enough. It proves harmful to your mental health, your wellbeing, and even your relationships.

In a study on perfectionism, two prominent experts identified three main variations which are characterized by the following:

·         Self-oriented perfectionism - individuals impose unrealistically high standards on themselves.

·         Socially prescribed perfectionism - people feel that others expect them to be perfect.

·         Other-oriented perfectionism - individuals have unreasonably high expectations of others.

Why is Perfectionism Harmful?

It is not uncommon to struggle with some combination of the three, all of which are problematic for different reasons. Additionally, just because someone is a perfectionist in one area of life does not necessarily mean that they will be in all. Someone may be a perfectionist at work but very forgiving of mistakes at home, or vice versa. But even struggling with perfectionism in one area can have negative consequences.

Self-Oriented Perfectionism

Holding yourself to unachievable standards is harmful because it can not only prevent you from doing work you’re proud of, but it can also seriously hurt your wellbeing. The fear of not being perfect on the first try has the potential to cause you to procrastinate, which can result in undue stress and anxiety.

Procrastination in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing, and may even fuel creativity, but in order for it to be beneficial, the procrastinator must not be afraid to fail.

But if the procrastination is due to perfectionism, it prevents experimentation and squashes creativity, and leads to you running up against time constraints. This ultimately causes stress and can compound your feelings of inadequacy, a truly vicious cycle. Living with a harsh inner critic also has severe consequences for your health. Researchers have found perfectionism to be associated with conditions such as high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

Socially Prescribed Perfectionism

Socially prescribed perfectionism is especially detrimental to your mental health. This variation of perfectionism has been linked to anxiety, depression, and unfortunately, suicidal ideation for some.

You are human and as such, a social creature. It is naturally inherent to want to be viewed positively by those you care about. But if you take that to the extreme of believing you need to be perfect to be worthy of respect, the effects can prove crippling mentally and emotionally.

Socially prescribed perfectionism has the potential to harm not only you but your relationships, by causing you to become closed off because of the pressure you feel to maintain unrealistic expectations. An even worse result is that you may struggle to ask for help, fearing it would be viewed as a sign of ineptitude.

Other-Oriented Perfectionism

Other-oriented perfectionism harms relationships in a different way. Working closely with someone who has this type of perfectionism can be exhausting and demoralizing. Other-oriented perfectionists often lack the soft skills that are crucial in a workplace, such as empathy, communication, and adaptability.

Those working with this type of perfectionist deal with a lack of understanding and forgiveness, rather than healthy constructive criticism, when mistakes are made. Mistakes are not seen as opportunities to learn and grow but instead are used to shame and demoralize.

This will cause people to be afraid to communicate openly because they are worried about disappointing the other. All of these factors lead to a toxic and strained relationship that is damaging to both partners, as well as their performance.

How to Improve Perfectionist Tendencies

Recognize when you’re being a perfectionist

The first step in addressing any perfectionist tendencies is to recognize them. You’re off to a great start by reading this article. You can also check out this site for a more comprehensive list of indicators of perfectionism.

Ultimately cultivating more self-awareness and mindfulness will help bring your perfectionism and other harmful tendencies to your attention. Many people improve these skills through habitual practices such as mindful walking, yoga, or journaling.

Prioritize getting things done over getting things perfect

Earlier we mentioned the vicious cycle of procrastination. The only way to break this cycle is just to get in there and start working. Know that your work is probably not going to meet your standards right away, and that’s perfectly okay. First drafts are meant to be rough. The purpose is to get your ideas down on paper, however messy they may look. Iterations are where you can build upon those ideas and perfect them.

Accepting What You Can Control and What You Can’t

Learning to let go of what you can’t control will help address all three variations of perfectionism. Starting with self-oriented perfectionism, when you become more aware that there are factors out of your control, such as resource or time limitations, it helps you to be more forgiving of yourself.

The next step is to learn to base your self-esteem more on the factors that are completely in your control. For example, rather than beating yourself up over your performance, you can celebrate how hard you’ve worked. Instead of being hard on yourself for struggling in your personal relationships, you can be proud of how much effort you put into being a kind person.

In terms of socially prescribed perfectionism, understanding that you have no control over how others see you is crucial. This may sound scary, but it can be quite freeing. You are in control of your actions and your choices, and nothing else. Put in your best effort, and do what you love, and you will be proud of the person you are. If someone views you negatively, that is not a reflection of you. And keep in mind that most people are not judging you as harshly as you may think, so working unnecessarily hard to please them doesn’t benefit anyone.

Additionally, letting go is especially relevant to other-oriented perfectionism. It’s important to give others space to make mistakes, learn, and grow. This doesn’t mean that you can’t offer input and support to help move their process along. But ultimately their work is their own, and there is no need to add to your plate by worrying about things that aren’t your responsibility.

Appreciate Difficulties

A huge cause of perfectionism is failing to appreciate the amount of effort it takes to achieve greatness. You can’t expect yourself to be an amazing athlete never having trained before, or to have Nobel-prize-worthy ideas at the drop of a hat. Great results take time and effort and usually come from iterations of the original idea. Expecting perfection on a first try sets you up for failure and disappointment. Everything is a process, and trusting your process will allow you to be more creative and gain confidence in your abilities. Practice makes perfect, so just keep practicing – and you will reach perfection, instead of chasing perfectionism.

Imperfection is what makes us human, it’s a beautiful thing, and it allows you to discover things that you never would have imagined.

 

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Soft Skills: A Testament to Your Personal Development

3 Things You Must Start Doing When You Become a Team Leader

When building your resume, you may naturally place emphasis on your technical skills—those relating directly to tasks you’ll be performing on the job. Technical skills are undoubtedly important, as they can demonstrate your experience and capabilities. They show what you can do. However, it’s also important to include soft skills on your resume. Soft skills are attributes that enable you to interact effectively and harmoniously with others. They are crucial for workplace success.

Soft skills are often related to your attitude and intuitions. They are less about qualifications and more based on the status of your personal development. As technology advances and jobs become increasingly more automated, having interpersonal skills that computers can’t match becomes even more essential. In this article, we will discuss six of the most important soft skills. We'll talk about they can make you more successful not only in your workplace but within your life.

Organization

Organizational skills can include attention to detail, persistence, and time management. The ability to maintain organized and efficient operations is extremely important. If someone has great technical capabilities but is frequently disorganized, they will be unlikely to live up to their full potential at work. Strong organizational skills demonstrate a commitment to carrying out tasks and duties in a timely manner, with a focus on quality.

Problem-solving

Problem-solving skills involve using creativity in order to resolve issues or perform tasks more efficiently. This is much valued by employers. A workplace full of strong problem-solvers is likely to run smoothly and remain unharmed by any minor hiccups. Problem-solving also means being innovative, and new ideas are valuable to any workspace.

Teamwork

Most employees work as part of a team, and even those who work ‘alone’ need to collaborate with other employees at some point. Being able to engage in productive collaboration is extremely valuable. If you’ve ever worked on a team or group project where some of the members were clearly not eager to work together, you have seen how difficult it can be.

People who are skilled at working in a team appreciate the value of joining forces with others in order to accomplish shared goals. They know when to delegate, and how to allow each person to contribute in ways that play to their unique strengths. Strong teamwork skills will make your life, and the lives of your team members so much easier.

Communication

Whether verbal or written, good communication skills can help you in all aspects of your career. Being able to communicate well means being skilled at delivering your message to others in a wide range of situations. Sometimes, you may need to communicate ideas that are uncomfortable or unpleasant. Conveying these messages tactfully and without creating conflict is an extremely desirable attribute that employers value.

Also essential to strong communication is the ability to listen actively and attentively. Being a good listener is crucial because it will help you respond more appropriately and will also help your co-workers/employers/employees see that you value and appreciate their ideas.

Adaptability

Being adaptable means being able to adjust and perform well under a variety of different conditions. Flexible employees often refine processes and identify new ideas for a business to explore. In any job (but especially in technology-driven fields or startups), changes occur unexpectedly. Being able to work with these changes and adjust quickly is extremely desirable for employers.

Adaptability can even make up for a lack of technical skills in some situations. For example, if you have never worked with the computer system that your job uses, but you are adaptable, employers may disregard your lack of experience because they see that you are motivated to learn, and know that your technical skills will follow.

Empathy

Empathy is simply the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. With that insight, you become better adept to support others through challenging situations. Empathy is an essential human characteristic, and can also be very beneficial in the workplace, as it can enable you to resolve conflicts, build more productive and collaborative teams, and improve relationships with co-workers, clients, and customers.

If after reviewing this list, you are concerned that you may not be as strong in some of these skills as you could be, don’t worry. Even though soft skills are not taught formally in a course or class, they can be developed and fostered through self-reflection and the observation of others. Remaining proactive with your personal development will increase your emotional intelligence which will significantly impact all your relationships for the better, not only the ones at work but across all facets of your life.

 

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Upskilling and Reskilling: The Secret to Staying Ahead of the Competition in Hiring and Brand Reputation

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More than half – 56 percent – of organizations believe they have a moderate to severe skills gap today, and 60 percent of employees believe that, to some extent, their current skill set will become outdated in the next three to five years. A commitment to Upskilling and Reskilling employees is quickly becoming the best path to overcoming skills gaps.

What is Upskilling and Reskilling?

Upskilling is learning new skills to optimize performance. Organizations upskill their employees to help them gain new skills and experience to stay relevant or move into a higher position. Whereas reskilling helps employees learn new skills to take up a new role within the same organization. Reskilling is more focused on training employees for a new position.

Benefits of Upskilling or Reskilling

Stay Competitive and Improve Employee Retention

Employees want learning and development opportunities to help them stay relevant in their role as well as position them for advancement. Providing a pathway for skills development motivates employees. Making them feel valued and supported, increasing their likelihood to stay with your organization long term. Upskilling and reskilling team members also helps keep companies competitive and shows that they are motivated to invest in the professional development of their employees.

Improve Morale and Productivity

Training and development opportunities help employees move forward on their career path and helps them envision their future with the organization, improving morale. Across teams, efficiency and productivity is improved, paving the way for increased satisfaction and strengthening your company’s competitive edge.

Attracts Great Talent

As word of your commitment to upskilling and reskilling spreads, your reputation in the eyes of your employees and the wider talent market improves. 91% of the millennials indicated that they preferred career development to any other benefit when choosing to join a company. By offering the right mix of upskill and reskill opportunities, employees who are motivated to keep learning and growing are motivated to stay and great talent with a similar mindset is encouraged to join.

Reduces Hiring Costs

Hiring is costly, from one-half to two times the employee’s annual salary. A measurable advantage of upskilling and reskilling is that it reduces hiring efforts to search for a specialist in a field. It is a much smaller investment compared to the cost of the recruitment process for hiring a new employee.

Upskilling and reskilling can help your company secure the right people with the right skills that you need to compete today while providing flexibility to arm team members with the necessary skills needed in the future. This attention reduces the need to look outside for talent with specific skillsets, saving time and hiring costs and allows for continuity among team members when it comes to proprietary company knowledge that would have otherwise walked right out the door.

How to Upskill and Reskill Employees?

Online Courses/Webinars

Remote learning is the most popular way to upskill and reskill during the current times when most employees are working from home. Online courses can be free or paid, and most of them provide a certificate at the end of the course. Investing in online classes allows you to upskill employees regardless of their location and time zone.

Classroom Training

Organizations can also upskill employees in a traditional classroom setting. They can hire trainers or institutes to share ideas and teach new skills and software to their employees. However, with the project deadlines, work commitments, and remote working, it becomes less feasible to attend scheduled training on the allocated day, time, and location.

Mentors

Mentorship programs within the organization are another great way to upskill employees. Subject matter experts (SMEs) from different areas can pair with employees to share new skills. This helps companies to leverage their existing talent to meet future requirements. Mentorship programs come in various forms and can be customized based on the upskilling or reskilling needs.

Pioneer companies are aware of the changing technological demands of the workplace. Last year, Amazon announced it would be dedicating $700 million to provide 100,000 employees access to upskilling training programs. In comparison, salesforce pledged to train 500,000 Americans with the skills they need to earn Salesforce credentials. Analyzing what skills are missing across the organization and upskilling or reskilling employees based on those skills will help create a growth-focused culture and continuous learning.

 

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