If we poll our employee population, you are very likely going to hear the response that they are looking for an authentic work environment. But just what does authentic mean? Dictionary.com defines the term as “not false or copied; genuine; real” So look at your organization or your functional area of responsibility and are you being authentic? Are you honest with your employees in those little things that matter to them?
To get another view on the question I turned to Nicole Ochenduski, HR Manager of Church and Dwight and fellow HR Blogger (http://hr-roots.blogspot.com/). I asked Nicole what authentic meant to her and her response was four-fold. She felt that authentic meant that the organization was transparent, communicative, participative and maintained a sense of family.
If we return to Dictionary.com and search for the meaning of honesty, we find that the word is defined as the quality or fact of being honest; uprightness and fairness. truthfulness, sincerity, or frankness; freedom from deceit or fraud. All of these apply back to our organizations being authentic as described above.
Referencing back to our blog title, our human capital assets will feel the organization is authentic if the organizational management is transparent. It means that management does not try and hide facts that show the true nature of the organization financially, operational wise and policy wise. We can obtain an engaged organization if every segment of the organization understands clearly why we are doing things the way we are. When they understand what is in it for them if the change is not implemented. When they feel that the decisions made equally apply to them as they do to members of management.
A good part of this transparency and honest dealings comes through a solid basis of communication through out the organization. Management should not be placing any segment in a position where they are working from less than full facts about the organizational structure and operations. It does not help the organization when we tell the customer that something is going to happen and the management has no intention of following through on that message.
Look at Jim Collin’s Good to Great or Jeffrey Liker’s Toyota Way and see what constitutes a great organization. Many of the organizations presented in these two sources talk about the involvement of the entire organization on cross-functional teams. Their responsibility is to ensure that there is input from all facets of the organization in meeting the voice of the customer. In Toyota, the employee has the right to stop the entire process if there is something less than the expected quality level. It is the firm belief of these organizations that in order to understand the organization you go to the experts for answers. These experts are the front line employees. The employee, who is in the trenches, talking with the customer.
The final piece of this discussion is that of a sense of family. Today’s employee expects to be treated in the same manner that you treat your family members. I fully realize that we have tons of examples of dysfunctional families in society. But equally true is that we have our organizations where we feel part of a strong family environment. Cadbury Chocolate was founded on this premise.
Honesty in Little Things is not a little thing. If we want to be part of vibrant organization then managerial honesty is not a little thing. If we want to be part of a vibrant organization then employee honesty is not a little thing. In the bigger picture they may be part of a little thing. This new global workplace we find ourselves in must be based on honesty in our dealings with all of the stakeholders form the members of management to the customers who keep our doors open.