What does authenticity in business look like? It’s a lot more than conducting regular staff meetings or creating open floor plans. Authenticity is part of a company’s core set of values. It involves openness at every level of the business. An authentic business knows its core values, will stick to them even when it isn’t easy, and will often take time to reflect on how to do better. There are several specific ways a company can implement change that improves authenticity and elevates communication with employees.
The first step toward integrity and authenticity is knowing who you are and why you’re in business in the first place. Management must make known the core values the company promotes and live by them daily. What are some of your core values? Accountability, honesty, and boldness are all values that many companies try to promote and model. Some organizations encourage stewardship and personal responsibility, while others focus on fun and passion.
Once core values are clearly articulated, a company can, more specifically, model integrity and honesty. According to Thriving Small Business, personal integrity is essential in every area of the business. This includes honesty regarding both customer service and relationships with employees. It also means a company is completely honest about what their products and services do and don’t do. They share this honest evaluation of their products with both customers and employees.
Transparency in business involves openness and clarity on all levels. An example of this is making sure employees are aware of problems in a company such as limited cash flow or a product recall within a reasonable time frame. It’s necessary to remain honest with employees and customers during difficult times. The following are several traits that exhibit transparency:
An authentic company promotes confidence among its employees. A business can accomplish this through genuine and personalized interactions. For example, simply telling someone that they’re doing a great job or have potential is generic and bland. Management needs to pinpoint precisely what an employee is doing right and why it’s working when attempting to instill confidence. Forbes points out that it’s essential to hit a sweet spot of difficulty when setting goals for employees. This means setting goals that are challenging yet not overwhelming. To do this correctly, supervisors need to know the capabilities of each of their employees.
Another way to promote confidence in a way that is personal and genuine is to put employees in charge of an area that involves their skill set explicitly. Help employees start in-house workshops and in-services in their own areas of expertise. Guide them through the process of teaching others. This not only creates a more authentic work environment but can also build a bond among employees.
A natural environment is one that allows employees to feel at ease, and even to a certain extent, at home. There are several ways an employer can create a natural environment.
Most organizations will say they value open communication, but many fail to live up to employee expectations. Truly, communication is critical to authenticity in business. There are several simple yet effective steps a business must take to truly provide open communication.
A business will need to cultivate and build expertise over the course of months and even years. It’s then nurtured and maintained. In short, an authentic business is continually building and maintaining their expertise. Providing expertise starts by knowing and focusing on your niche area. A truly authentic business knows what it’s doing. This means that hiring the right individuals for each position in the company is essential. All levels of management should work closely with human resources throughout the hiring process in order to bring in the right people.
It’s important to specify where exactly your expertise lies. Whether it’s a service or a product, it’s necessary to state in one or two sentences what your business does and why you’re the ones to do it. This doesn’t mean there aren’t any mistakes or that problems won’t arise. A company that provides high levels of expertise isn’t afraid to admit when they get it wrong or seek outside assistance when necessary.
It’s essential to share expertise to maintain credibility as experts in any particular area. This includes building a platform and collaborating with other professionals. This probably will include social media, but goes beyond these types of platforms. Posting articles on professional platforms such as LinkedIn is one way to promote and maintain expertise. Ultimately, a company will want to build a community of followers through its various platforms.
An authentic business will always offer to make the most of their employees. They’ll provide opportunities for them to build their skills and advance throughout the company. This makes ongoing training essential for employees in almost any type of business. There are several reasons an authentic business will provide a variety of training and educational opportunities for its employees.
There are a variety of specific ways to provide training for employees. Traditional classroom learning isn’t practical for most employees who are working full-time and have family obligations. It’s important to provide several types of eLearning opportunities and web-based training that can fit the schedules and needs of individual employees.
Building and proving authenticity in business does not happen overnight. It can take years to create an organization that is open, honest, and authentic to its employees and the community. It’s important to include in the business model goals such as cultivating communication, creating a natural environment, and offering continual training options to employees to reach this level of authenticity. Projections Inc. has over 40 years’ experience creating custom solutions for businesses to become employers of choice.
In over 25 years of helping companies connect with their employees, Jennifer has gained a unique perspective on what it takes to build a culture of engagement. By blending a deep understanding of labor and employee relations with powerful digital marketing knowledge, Jennifer has helped thousands of companies achieve behavioral change at a cultural level.