Bring your entire self to work
Being yourself is more than an expression of just who you are. It is what you think of the value that you can actually contribute.
Millennials today are self-starters and they've got their own drive to do what they have to do.
If organizations are looking to tap into the talent pool that is not only driven, and is highly enthusiastic...the last thing that you want to do is put a cage around them
If we ask someone, “What does ‘being yourself’ mean to you?”, chances are we’d be faced with one of the two responses: A blank stare of disbelief at being asked such a question, or an answer that is… well, politically correct.
On digging deeper, however, we’ll find that each individual has a belief system that revolves around who they believe they are. And this is perhaps one of the most defining aspects for individuals. Even in their professional space.
“I think being yourself, in many ways, is more than an expression of just who you are. It is also what you think of the value that you can actually contribute,” says Aruna C. Newton, Global Head - Diversity and Inclusion at Infosys. And that, she says, is because the thoughts, actions, the way people feel about something, are all aligned, and get expressed in the work they do. Hence it is important for them to bring their entire selves to their workplace.
More often than not people tend to forget the importance of being their true selves, especially when it comes to organizational behavior. People tend to leave a part of their character at home, and bring to work a formal and guarded personality.
“Every individual is unique and special in many different ways. Oftentimes, social constructs cause individuals to give up that uniqueness, that originality, that authenticity, in order to conform to a social norm,” says Newton.
She believes that seeking acceptance in the social, or professional front restricts one’s ability to bring out what is unique to them, as they try to feel like a part of a larger whole. This, in turn, impacts their approach towards the work they do.
But that is changing, says Newton.
Today, organizations are faced with a new generation of workforce where people are confident about asking, and even demanding change from the organizations of which they are a part.
“Today, the millennials are actually expressing themselves, and they’re very clear about what they want, and what they don't want, how they will be treated, how they will participate, and how they will not,” notes Newton, adding “They believe that they are self-starters and they've got their own drive to do what they have to do.”
Newton believes that the more people say, “let me be me,” what they’re also indicating is that letting them be themselves at work will translate itself into the way they will deliver results for their organizations. By bringing the whole of themselves to work they’ll be freer, and more confident in sharing their thoughts and views.
“It will then translate into the way they will build collaborations and partnerships, and foster how they would treat others, while expressing how they would like to be treated,” says Newton, adding that all of this is related, and this changing attitude is breaking down conventional hierarchies and power structures.
“If organizations are looking to tap into the talent pool that is not only driven, and is highly enthusiastic, but is also learning constantly, the last thing that you want to do is put a cage around them,” she says.
Organizations have to change to foster innovation, original thinking, and an environment where people bring their best to the table.
At Infosys, we’re realizing that encouraging employees to bring their entire self to their workspace is important to study attrition.
“We’re taking cognizance that this is a very important aspect for us. And, we're beginning to see that there are ways in which we look at people, and ways in which we allow people to be who they are,” she says, adding that as an organization it’s important to start seeing this, and move proactively about it.
And change begins from the top, she acknowledges. “This is as much about the manager being comfortable with who they are, even before letting somebody be who they are. When you're comfortable, only then can you be generous to accommodate someone as who they are.”
“And that’s a lesson in progress and one that will pave the way for a lot of change,” says Newton as she signs off.