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Who Are You Bringing to Work?

Dr. John Passante asks: Are your employees able to bring their “whole self” to work?

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John Passante is a broad-based senior executive with over 30 years of extensive organizational development and senior human resource experience with progressive corporations involved in multiple locations, both domestic and international.

Recently I was reading an article that addresses the fact that many organizations were requesting that their employees return to the workplace after working from home for the past two years. A newly hired employee asked her manager, “Can I bring my whole self to work?” The question stopped me in my tracks and made me think, pause and wonder about how many employees would like to ask that question but are too afraid and uncomfortable to ask.     

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Bringing your whole self to work means acknowledging who you really are, and bringing your personality, hopes, quirky habits, concerns, aspirations and even fears to work. Given the challenges facing companies today to recruit, develop and retain employees, it is critical that organizations become newly aware of the value of encouraging employees to bring their whole selves to work, every day. Remember that we are known by the company we keep. Thus, appreciate the employees who bring their whole self to work each day. They have a good self-image.       

Enhance and improve the true human connection. The more we know about each other, the greater the opportunity to discover common interests, motivations, hobbies and views of the future, which opens the window for creative problem-solving and transparent dialogue. Remember to view all your employees as a creative resource – a walking, talking and thinking, unlimited asset. Communicate and treat them accordingly! 

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Through the experiences of the past two years, all of us in the automotive aftermarket have gained wisdom. Hopefully, of the importance of the human resources (people) in our organization. When hiring or promoting associates it is important to hire and keep the whole person in mind. Never underestimate the so called “soft skills” such as dependability, interpersonal relationships and communication skills. Question: why are good people skills so hard? Many times, we overlook verbal and nonverbal behavior. Watch body language, verbal and listening skills. 

“The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership,” – Harvey Firestone

In essence, it means developing and motivating the whole person. In today’s highly interconnected world, the challenges we all face at home impact our top performance. We are all aware that when things are good at work they tend to be good or better at home. Given technical innovation, it is very difficult to separate our work life from our home life. There is a misconception that people do not want to discuss issues affecting them outside of work.      

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The facts are employees appreciate help and assistance in addressing life’s challenges. The highest performing employees are often those who seek development in all facets of their lives because they trust the leader and the organization. Soft skills (people skills) enable each of us to live fulfilling lives at home and at work.        

When employees bring their whole self to work, they bring their gifts, life experiences, good and the bad, their values, purpose, and motivation. This can and does positively influence the organization, co-workers, and customers. Most of us have a work persona. By encouraging employees to bring their whole self to work, we become advocates of authenticity in the workplace. It is paramount to remember that we are all vulnerable, imperfect beings, doing the best we can.       

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Remember: life and business are a team sport! We all need each other. The lack of psychological safety makes it difficult for employees, groups and the organization to perform at their highest level because people are holding back some (or all) of who they really are. Sharing who we are enriches each of us!

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