Who are you? Stop whatever you are doing and really think about that question. Who are you?
I’d been asked that question many times over the years, but until it was asked in the right context, I had never really given it much consideration. But when I did, wow! I couldn’t answer the question.
I believe the reason I couldn’t answer the question is because for so many years I had simply defined myself by my professional title, VP of HR. Who I am is far deeper than simply a job title.
So how does this relate to employee connection and being authentic?
True employee connection involves building a real, authentic relationship with your employee that goes beyond title and standard organizational hierarchy. A real relationship involves getting to know one another as fellow human beings – likes and dislikes, values and beliefs, hobbies and stressers, family and friends. And it starts by first knowing those things about yourself.
Worried about maintaining your status as boss? Don’t! There will always be plenty of reminders that you are the boss. No one forgets that. I promise!
Are you thinking that having a relationship with your employee is taboo? It’s not. That kind of thinking is why you can’t connect. “Relationship” is not, contrary to traditional wisdom, a dirty word in the workplace. Having a relationship with your employee doesn’t mean intimacy or becoming their BFF. It means connection. And the only way to get connected is by being authentic; by being you.
Consider this… the greater the gap between your natural behavioral style and your adapted behavioral style (the style you typically assume at work) the greater your level of stress becomes. So, the moral of the story is to be true to your authentic self and quit trying to be a title because that takes way too much energy that could be used in more productive ways.
Here are three steps for being authentic with your employees:
1. Know who you are – what you stand for, what your limits are, likes and dislikes, goals and objectives, family and friends, motivational and emotional triggers.
2. Know who your employee is – what they stand for, what their limits are, likes and dislikes, goals and objectives, family and friends, motivational and emotional triggers
3. Openly talk to your employee about all these things – yours and theirs – daily. Building a true connection is a two way street.
Now, if you have a penchant for dirty jokes and offensive language, keep that to yourself. But don’t be afraid to show your lighter side; assuming you have one. Do you have one?
By knowing and being your authentic self to your employees, and by being interested in who they are, you just might find you have something in common with them. That’s connection!