A leader must show their true colours to encourage employees to do so too.

Can You Get More Out of Your Employees by Opening Up Yourself?


Its easy to assume that once you hire and train someone, they will perform at their best. You have welcomed them into you team, so they should feel at home and bring their full self to work – shouldn’t they? How much a worker engages with their role can have a lot to do with the leader’s communication skills.

Why are so many employees disengaged?

A 2013 Deloitte investigation found that 61 per cent of workers cover up aspects of themselves while they are at work. This can range from concealing a tattoo all the way to denying their sexuality or religion, or even hiding that there has been a death in the immediate family.

The study revealed that 53 per cent of employees felt that their leader expected staff to disguise these personal aspects. And out of these respondents, over half believed that this covert behaviour reduced how much they engaged with work and damaged their promotion opportunities.

Additionally, a 2014 study by researchers Critcher and Ferguson found that social contexts where employees feel that they have to cover has a negative impact on employee performance. Various studies have shown that this sort of behaviour increases stress and can lead to higher staff turnover also.

So how can you stop it from happening?

Ultimately, if your staff feel that they have to hide aspects of their true selves, it could be to the detriment of your bottom line. In a position of social influence, leaders send signals to others in the organisation about how they should behave, but also how they should think and feel.

Therefore, leaders must set a precedent of inclusion and acceptance by first uncovering themselves. It is all about exhibiting a culture of open communication where employees can actually feel at home. Essentially, it comes down to making difficult conversations seamless and becoming adept at courageous communication.

If you feel that you are not getting the most out of your team, you may want to take a communication skills training course with the experts at the Institute for Communication, Management and Leadership.

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