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How To Grow A Meaningful Work Identity?

There are four types of positive identity, virtue, evaluation, development and structural.   We use these perspectives to develop employees and to strengthen and diversify relationships in the workplace.

Every person forms, transforms and modifies how they define themselves based on their work situations and activities.  If you are a chef, engineer, doctor or hospital janitor each person fosters a sense of value and meaning in their work. We believe that individuals wish to build positive identity in the workforce.

Those who build strong work relationships need to have information, access and trust.  For those who have this they are able to endure stress, hardships and take on new and more demanding challenges.

Each person has multiple identities that are dynamic and complex.  These identities are always changing based on self-knowledge and understandings of your employment surroundings.

From ages 21 to 70 we will spend our lives working, so why not seek to have positive identity and healthy relationships?  All people create and maintain a self-definition in hopes that their identity to others is positive, favorable and valuable in the workplace.

All employees are motivated by either private / public evaluation of their contributions.  Leaders and managers can identify these evaluations to drive positive changes in the organization.  Also, leaders will be able to respond to negative identity threats at work, by creating bonds through trust and transparency.

When negative identities are present in the workplace there is a higher demand to focus on development.  This can threaten employees who have positive identities, because they aren’t reassured of their contributions within their employment.

If we foster each person to develop knowledge, and find a sense of meaning in their work and invest time in developing employees the rate of positive employees can increase.

Below are examples of each identity.  Which do you identify with most?  Are you able to lead with this identity in mind?

The Virtue Perspective:

People of good character, inherently good, strong ethics, wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance and transcendence. Do people call you courageous?  Do you act with bravery?  Do you only work with integrity? Do you have compassion? Are you optimistic and confident?  Do you have resilience and high moral character?

The Evaluative Perspective:

People seeing themselves as competent, capable and accepted, positive self-esteem, and valued by others.  Do you like to feel good about yourself? Do you distinguish yourself from others? Do you hold yourself in high regard? Do you like to enhance or maintain a sense of self-worth?  Are you capable, significant and a worthy employee?

The Developmental Perspective: Progressive

People who focus on change and self-definition over time.  Identity is dynamic and capable of progress and adaptation.  Do you see things in a higher-order? Do you see each season of life a way to develop yourself?  Overtime are your attributes and behaviors aligned? Do you progress towards the life dream? Do you progress through career stages that is a passage from one role to another? Do you pass through these three phases or establishment, advancement and maintenance within your organizations?  Is your identity impressionable in different stages?  Do you change your views based on your career dreams?  Do you focus on experience and time to drive your development?

The Developmental Perspective: Adaptive

People who want to achieve authenticity, coherence, meaning, distinctiveness, assimilation, maturity within themselves.  focus systematically change to alter identity to achieve higher standards.  Do you see a need for role transitions to encourage the creation of new identities? Do you compete with yourself to enhance your identity?  Do you have an ideal self? If something feels wrong do you change your behavior? Do you see yourself in career stages and adaptive your approach to gain success?

The Structural Perspective:

People who need balance and/or complementary relationship within their identity.  Do you seek to have optimal balance in all your identities? Do you have a methodical way of organizing?  Do you set strict rules to follow? Do you differentiate each of your identities and order them?

Balanced identity structure:

People who balance the desire the need to be included and belonging for uniqueness and differentiation. Do you want to be distinctive?  Do you want to be on the top all the time?

Complementary Identity Structure:

People who reduce identity conflict and motivate themselves. Is your identity complex and compatible? Do you embrace a higher-status of identity? Do you create firm boundaries of your identities and integrate them as one? Do you build connections to complement your identity? Do you express cultural values in the work place?

A great way to increase employee identity is to promote positive identities within your employee’s at work.

If individuals focus on the number, breadth, diversity and quality, of relationships have at work they will ultimately have a higher level of career satisfaction.

Organizations can encourage employees to focus on having positive identities.  Policy makers and leaders should consider how organization culture shapes the way individuals define themselves.  As an organization are you promoting your employers to be virtuous, worthy, and advancing and balanced?

Authentic leaders embrace a positive and ethical organizational cultural, and encourage individuals to conduct themselves in honorable ways.  Each person should hold themselves in high regard and always strive to live in their positive identity self.  Employees need to be humble and accept when others offer feedback for developmental purposes.

Grow diversity in your career, learn often, collaborate with all people and leave your mark in the workplace.  Invest in yourself and live a positive life.  Add value to your organization and the world around you. As we say at BKD Leaders #learnleadlive


Click to access Pathways_for_Positive_Identity.pdf

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