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Authenticity – how high up your priority list is it?

A book has just hit the shelves that explores how HR people can help their organisations to develop authenticity.  Robin Ryde, in Creating Authentic Organisations: Bringing Meaning and Engagement Back to Work’ asserts that authenticity is a vital commodity in organisations – because it enables us to fulfill our potential, to be responsive and innovative – and thus drives productivity.  Because HR people are core to driving the right culture and values, Robin challenges them to look at how they’re helping people – especially leaders – to develop authenticity.  He also looks at how it fits into some of the core HR services, such as recruitment and performance management.

Robin has made me think about the particular challenge of being authentic as an HR professional.  We can get caught between differing stakeholder needs, conflicting business priorities, and of course conflicts between staff and their managers or between team members.  My question is – how often do we allow ourselves to consider what we actually think?  I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s had to ‘front’ and implement interventions or decisions that actually didn’t sit very well with me personally. Sometimes life in HR can feel like walking along a tightrope of personal integrity.

What choices do we have, in reality?  There can be times when we actually don’t feel that we can choose – we feel stuck with how things are, or it’s too late in the process to be able to change them.   A key learning for me, when I was in corporate life, is that I had more impact when I engaged with key stakeholders earlier in the decision-making, planning or budgeting process.  I could earn myself the right to choose by building relationships more proactively – ie. ahead of time.  So, getting to the point where you feel truly authentic often follows doing some work on getting fully aligned – recognizing areas where you don’t feel comfortable, and tackling them.

This learning was one of the inputs to Enable-HR; making and nurturing the right connections helps to set us up for success.  It may be that there are some conversations that you are not having, and if you were to have an honest, straight conversation then you might be able to either change a situation, or alternatively to come to terms with it.  Until we get our own alignment clear, it’s difficult to be, or to be seen as, authentic.


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