27 Mar Speaking Your Truth – 3 Reasons Why It’s Important for Employees and Employers
This post was originally published in March 2018 and was updated in March 2019.
One of my favourite parts of working with my clients is facilitating a team effectiveness sessions for groups of employees. These workshops are focused on each participant having the opportunity to understand their individual style and preferences in the workplace and being able to recognize the styles and preferences of others. The desired outcome of the workshop is to create more effective organizational communication, and for the group to better understand each other.
I am reminded of the incredible value of having an awareness and understanding of oneself as an employee at work. When employees have that awareness, they will be able to adapt and connect with others to create productive workplaces that deliver results.
In her acceptance speech for the Cecil B. de Mille Award at 2018 Golden Globes ceremony, Oprah shared something that still resonates, ”Speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.” Her simple but important observation got me thinking about the value of understanding the power of one’s own truth(s) as an employee in an organization.
A recent Gallup Workplace article, 3 Ways to Improve Your Employee and Customer Experience, speaks further to this idea:
“Human beliefs, feelings, thoughts and perceptions influence everything from business performance to front-line productivity to the customer experience.” (Grafstein, 2019).
Knowing your own truth in the context of today’s workplace means two things:
- Having an awareness of those things that shaped your work experiences
- Having the maturity and perspective to understand and use them for good
To be honest, sometimes it is much easier to speak about our own truth as we see it than it is to actually live it day to day. There are three really good reasons why employees knowing and sharing their own workplace truths is important for organizations to succeed: Value, Alignment and Trust.
Regardless of whether I’m working at the organization or individual level, I have found that when employees are aware of the value that lies within their experiences (both good and bad), they are better able to bring those learnings from those experiences to their team, colleagues and peers. Individuals who lack awareness of their style and their impact on others can have negative or disruptive effect on a team, department and often themselves.
Imagine a work environment where all employees were aware of, and comfortable with, their own experiences and could use that awareness to have more effective conversations, or if some of our work colleagues saw the value of their experiences to mentor, coach and guide others without embarrassment or reproach? How much value is being left on the table at work because people aren’t aware or don’t have the requisite perspective to bring their truth forward for good?
The value of knowing your own truth as an employee is the ability to assess the alignment of your own values and those of your company to create clarity. The ability to recognize the alignment or misalignment of your own experience with a leader, a team or even an individual colleague is a good thing. We’ve all seen what can happen when there is a person or group who is not aligned to their own truth or the truths of their organization.
Checking for personal alignment helps employees make decisions about where to expend their career energy. If my truth and experience lines up well to the environment I work in, that alignment enables me to pursue my goals because I know that what I bring to work helps my organization, and if it doesn’t, I have different decisions to make about staying or going. All too often, when an employee’s experience is misaligned, his/her focus, desire and productivity are as well.
Just as we discovered in the workshop that day, understanding your own self is the first step of being able to understand others. As an employee, if I know how I work and I can share that with you, if I understand how you work, we can use our collective understanding to have better conversations. Better conversations lead to better understanding and over time, builds trust. We know that when there are high levels of trust in an organization, often there are better business results.
Speaking your truth for employees is about being aware of the experiences that have shaped their careers and sharing perspective on those formative experiences with others to create value, alignment and trust. As an employee, take time to reflect, respect and understand your own truth and those of others. You and your employer will reap the benefits.