How to Not Be Authentic at Work (And Maybe Get Bullied on LinkedIn):
It is a fact that when people are allowed to be their authentic selves at work, they perform exponentially better. How can you tell when they are not?
Most employees aren’t going to tell you if they are stretching themselves to meet demands that they just aren’t wired to handle. Odds are that they will stretch as much as they can to be who you need them to be, until they just can’t do it anymore.
Being forced to be someone you’re not takes a big emotional and physical toll on a person. Forced is the perception, of course – as a leader you’re not holding a gun to anyone’s head to make them stay (I hope) – but most employees feel that their job will be at risk if they speak up.
I’m going to get personal here and use my own story to illustrate the difference between authentic and inauthentic employees. Don’t judge! 🙂
Selling is not my jam.
As the Founder + CEO of The Outstanding Company, I wear many hats. Two of those hats are overseeing all sales and marketing activities. I am a former marketing strategy consultant and before that, an outside sales person, so this should be no big deal, right? Wrong-o, my friend.
Gary Vaynerchuk posted something today along the lines of, ‘when you know your products and services and believe in them wholeheartedly, selling isn’t hard’. While I agree with the sentiment, I disagree in practice – and with good, scientifically supported evidence.
I know Talent Optimization, I know the Predictive Index platform, I know business strategy, and I know how to help transform businesses by bringing them all together. There is no doubt about that.
If am very personable and can find common ground with just about anyone, love this business, and love my customers, then why is it that I absolutely dread marketing, networking, and sales calls?
I do. I hate sales. A lot. Mostly because it feels tacky and forced to me. Networking is tough because I’m always looking for depth of conversation and small talk doesn’t get me there. I want to know and understand people, and you know what? People can tell.
How I know that people can tell (and also how to get bullied on LinkedIn).
I had an experience last week that was a big, fat reminder.
Some know-it-all young sales bro with a whole lot of followers (who will remain nameless), posted a question on LinkedIn related to the hiring process and receiving an overwhelming number of applications. I responded thoughtfully, and my response included some of the things that we do at TOC.
Well dontcha know, the bro-friends showed up, and started flat out making fun of me. Three of them actually. “Oh, a sales pitch on this thread? That’s golden. lol”, followed by an, “[insert name] – lol”, and another one with the genius comment, “success rate = 0”.
(Yes, I just said that grown men on LinkedIn made fun of me. This happens? I’m confused.)
Why did they do that? Probably some deep insecurity issues but truthfully, my post came across as unnatural and inauthentic, because it was. I just don’t know how to sell that way and as much as I try, the delivery is never what I aspire to.
I am aware of my shortcomings when it comes to these areas. That’s an extremely powerful thing in itself. Once you know, you can correct, improve, or try something different. Not knowing leads to wasted effort, frustration, and failure.
I’m good at a lot of things.
Give me a problem, a big, fat, real problem that costing your company hundreds of thousands of dollars or more, and I will help you solve it and put money back in your pocket. THIS is why I do what I do – can we skip to that? When I am genuinely solving problems with people, I shine.
That is who I’m supposed to be. I’m a CEO, leader, talent strategy consultant, and trusted business advisor. I am here to help. That is the authentic Natalie. I am on every sales call but I don’t pitch. I ask questions, listen, analyze, and give feedback. Hard selling? No can do.
I didn’t just figure this out on my own.
I tried hard, for years, to be a sales person. I always thought I had it in me and I kept trying and failing, until I developed the self-awareness through tools and reflection that confirmed I just wasn’t built for it.
A visual of me (top) vs. an outside salesperson (bottom)
Created using our Behavioral Assessment + Job Assessment
This sales person and myself – we don’t look very similar, do we?
Here’s a quick overview of what all of this means:
A Drive: The Sales Hunter is off-the-charts independent and assertive. I am slightly those things but less so, making it easier for me to collaborate with others.
B Drive: I am more reserved, analytical, and take time to think about what I’m going to say. The Sales Hunter is super outgoing, engaging, great at spitballing ideas and then working out the details later. Great stuff for a sales person!
C Drive: I am patient, steady, and work methodically. The Sales Hunter is literally off the charts on the low side, which means they are moving at a crazy fast pace. Rejection? Move on. Who cares. On to the next prospect. No big deal.
D Drive: The D drive really measures how many data points a person needs to make a decision. If a person is far to the left, they make snap decisions and are confident in them. On the far right, however, they are not going to make a decision without all of the details and information. Both the Sales Hunter and I share a similar D drive.
This is why I love the work that I do. I am in the right role. People with my pattern make great entrepreneurs. I get to collaborate with clients and then work independently, analyzing situations, and producing thoughtful and valuable resolutions. I get to work methodically, head-down, spending time on developing solutions, and maintaining a balance in decision making.
I have to say, I love sales people, especially the Predictive Index Account Execs I get to work with – BIG shout out to them! I am endlessly impressed by their natural ability to do the things that are so hard for me – and they do it with complete authenticity! Things that I could never imagine being enjoyable are enjoyable to them.
Are you picking up what I’m putting down?
The truly crazy thing is that most companies are not analyzing the requirements of their jobs vs. candidates’ and employees’ natural inclinations. I think we all know people who are stretching beyond their abilities to meet the demands of their roles.
People who stretch beyond their capabilities too much for too long start to not only stink at their jobs but also become really unhappy. These are your unhappy, unproductive, disengaged, and potentially toxic to others, employees.
They are often wonderful human beings but putting or keeping them in a role that is misaligned with have detrimental effects on productivity, company culture, team morale, customer relations, and your bottom line – majorly!
The cost of replacing a person is expensive and you’ve usually already lost money by the time you let someone go or they quit.
It also affects their personal lives. They are stressed, which can lead to bad health, they are likely to be unhappy, and even their families can feel the effects. Maybe not all business leaders care about this but they should. It all works together.
Becoming authentic and creating a workplace that supports authenticity.
We become more authentic by developing self-awareness and better understanding the people with whom we work. Once you understand what drives and motivates yourself and others, the dynamic shifts in a very positive way.
This is my authentic sales pitch.
On the theme of being authentic yes, this is an informative sales pitch. We can help you transform your business – not just the workplace – using the knowledge, science, technology, and education that we offer.
I want to understand what challenges you are facing and see if there is alignment for us to work together. If we don’t cross paths again, I truly thank you for coming by!
If you’re interested in more information on how to achieve alignment across your entire organization, please reach out to us below.
The major themes we work with are: leadership alignment with business strategy, aligning talent strategy with business strategy, establishing company culture, employee engagement, developing future leaders, job fit, candidate fit, training managers, understanding and improving team dynamics, attracting better candidates, and of course helping each employee understand their unique strengths and weaknesses and where they will need to stretch in their roles.
Whether you are looking for help in the hiring process to get it right the first time (we are validated for that!) or using it to figure out how to help a person work more authentically in their role or team, we will deliver real results.