How to Create an Authentic Workplace at Your Association

By Kaydee Brown • December 21, 2022

In recent years, the idea of “authenticity” has come to the forefront of organizations of all industries and sizes. It’s a fantastic modern element in the workplace, but it doesn’t come without its learning opportunities. In the association world, staff sizes tend to be quite small in comparison to other organizations. This typically means that teams work very closely with one another. And, it’s not uncommon for conflicts to arise between two “authentic” people on these smaller teams. 

Authenticity, like it or not, can actually be a catalyst to these conflicts, whether the conflict pertains to personal beliefs, future goals, or different communication styles. Regardless if these two parties’ authenticity is what spurred the conflict, it’s critical for organizations  to address any disputes that arise quickly and efficiently. It’s a tough spot to be in and is known as an authenticity paradox, where an individual is faced with a choice of either being true to themselves and not compromising or simply getting the job done. The drama that can ensue is not good for your association’s business, and it takes creating strategic measures to prevent it.

For association leaders, setting the right tone and leading by example is a great first step to avoiding the pitfalls of authenticity drama. You can establish a truly authentic workplace without any unforeseen friction, but it takes some legwork to establish a base from which your team members can express themselves authentically. 

Setting the Right Tone in the Workplace to Create Positive Authenticity

Authenticity in the workplace means being transparent and genuine with your coworkers, which can help build trust and improve communication as a whole. However, creating an authentic workplace can sometimes be challenging, especially if your association already has existing personality clashes. 

When fostering an authentic workplace, leaders should follow these four critical steps to help avoid unnecessary distractions: 

  1. Encourage open and honest communication. Open and honest communication is key to creating an authentic workplace. Encourage your employees to share their thoughts, ideas and concerns openly and honestly without fear of judgment or retaliation. This can help build trust and foster a sense of inclusiveness within your association. One way to practice this is to host regular meetings, such as weekly check-ins or monthly all-hands meetings, which can be a great way to facilitate open and honest communication.
  2. Be transparent with your employees. Being transparent with your employees and sharing information about the goals and plans of your association is a great way to create an authentic workplace. Be open and honest, and involve your employees in decision-making processes whenever possible. This can help build trust and make your employees feel valued and appreciated, and this can also help prevent misunderstandings and conflicts, which can reduce drama in the workplace.
  3. Provide support and resources for your employees. Offer training and development opportunities to help your employees grow and learn to support career development, mental health, and well-being. This can help your employees feel valued and supported no matter what their personal goals and struggles are, which can improve morale in the workplace. Providing support and resources can also help your employees feel more empowered and capable, which can increase their job satisfaction and motivation.
  4. Address conflicts quickly and effectively. Conflict can be a part of any workplace, and it is important to address these issues quickly and effectively to prevent them from escalating. Encourage your employees to communicate honestly about any situations where friction is arising, and provide support and resources to help them resolve these issues. It is important for them to seek to understand their differences and push to reach a positive outcome, all while producing results. This can facilitate a more positive work culture and reduce the overall amount of drama in the workplace. As a leader, it is important to remain objective and fair when addressing these situations and prioritize your employees’ well-being and happiness.        

In order to foster a positive work culture and improve employee morale, leaders should strive to create an authentic workplace free from drama by adopting these measures. By encouraging open and honest communication, being transparent, providing support and resources, and addressing conflicts and drama quickly and effectively, an association’s internal operations can thrive and become more productive. Employees are also much more likely to feel appreciated and heard in the workplace, creating a deeper sense of trust and loyalty. A positive and productive work environment is what everyone wants, so working toward where each individual’s vibrant personality can thrive while maintaining decorum is mission-critical.

About The Author

Kaydee Brown is the senior marketing manager at Naylor Association Solutions. Reach her at [email protected].