The line between employees’ work identities and their personal identities is blurring thanks to social media, and this Harvard Business Review IdeaCast (download here) explores how this trend is changing the roles of managers. Today’s leaders have to help their employees bring their authentic selves to work, but then also manage the interpersonal dynamics that would have gone unspoken in the past. Krista Tippett, who hosts the radio show and podcast On Being, says civility in the workplace begins with an acknowledgment that employees are feeling and reacting to everything inside and outside the workplace and are no longer compartmentalizing their work and home lives. Now, employees expect their identity and personal values to find reflection in their jobs. We are finding “new information from science about our brains and our bodies and how something like trauma is actually something that we carry around and that transmits in our social spaces, including in a workplace,” Tippett says. “But we also know that people who are able to feel good about what they do – who are, well, healthy – are also going to be more productive.” The question is how a workplace can be created to honor each employee and ensure they feel human, but at the same time speak the truth in a professional setting. Tippett says that the workplace is in a “messy period of change,” and if you start to create a setting where people take responsibility for themselves and can bring their whole selves to work, then it must be determined “where you create the boundaries that are going to work in a professional setting.” There will need to be a whole new way of interacting with one another with respect, allowing employees to express opinions and feelings respectively and still remain productive. She notes that it’s “when you create a place that people are excited to come in the morning where their creativity is not hindered by bureaucracy and kind of soul-stealing process and hierarchy,” that a civil workplace can be unleashed. “So again, these, these civilizational questions – this beautiful question of how we create not just whole people, but whole organizations – are life-giving,” says Tippett.
Listen to the full podcast on hbr.org.