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Why Workplace Authenticity Matters More than Ever, According to Credly’s VP of Customer Success

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Why Workplace Authenticity Matters More than Ever, According to Credly's VP of Customer Success

Pre-pandemic, it was relatively easy to keep tight boundaries between our personal and professional lives.

But in a post-pandemic world, things have shifted. Now, people have their dogs or children in the background during Zoom calls. Others have yoga breaks and book clubs blocked into their work calendars.

Companies have also put a bigger focus on their employees’ mental and physical health: For instance, HubSpot began offering its employees access to mental health tool Modern Health, as well as an employee discount for the Headspace app.

All of which is to say: The workplace has changed, and whether people work from home or return to the office, they’re going to want — and expect — the freedom of bringing their full selves to work.

Here, I sat down with Krystal Lamoureux, VP of Customer Success at Credly, to learn her leadership tips for encouraging employees to bring their full selves to work. Let’s dive in.

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What It Means to Bring Your Whole Self to Work, and Why It Matters

For starters, I asked Lamoureux what it means to bring her ‘full self’ to work.

She told me, “I think the pandemic has helped me realize that being a professional does not mean I have to check my personal life at the door. It forced me to shrink everything about me to fit inside the four walls of my home. Suddenly work, school, and play were all occurring in the same place and at the same time. Pre-pandemic, my kids went to school and I commuted to the office. Somewhere in the car post-drop off, I switched from mom to professional.”

Lamoureux adds, “When the pandemic hit, I no longer had the option to segment my day or attention the way I used to and, as a result, the way I work has changed (for the better). Not only has my wardrobe shifted to more casual options (leggings, yoga pants, and hoodies for the most part), but I’ve also adjusted when and how I work.”

Research has shown tremendous benefits to authenticity in the workplace, both for individuals and for organizations at-large. For instance, Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership’s 2021 Leadership Development Survey found people who behaved authentically at work felt more confident, more deeply engaged, and happier.

Additionally, respondents said being authentic enabled them to build stronger coworker relationships, and roughly half even said authenticity made them “more able to do their best work” in the office.

Authenticity in the workplace can’t happen without psychological safety, but it’s a critical component for happy, healthy employees. Additionally, it’s simply a good business practice to foster authenticity in the workplace, since people who feel they can bring their full selves to work ultimately connect more deeply and fully with their team — leading to lower turnover rates and higher engagement.

As Lamoureux puts it: Our personalities, experiences, likes and dislikes, and goals and aspirations all join together to form the person who shows up for work every day anyway.

“Bringing our whole selves to work creates a much richer, more authentic product for everyone involved. Allowing people to bring their whole selves to work creates a more authentic, happier work life.”

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quote from credly vp on authenticity workplace

So — what does authenticity look like in practice?

Lamoureux told me, “I don’t have a dedicated office space in my home, but I usually set up shop at the dining room table where I have a tidy background for video calls. When I’m chatting with my team, I’ll move to my couch to snuggle with my pup. Our CEO often encourages us to turn our cameras off and walk around during calls to avoid Zoom-fatigue. Knowing that I’m not always expected to be on-camera allows me flexibility to tend to laundry while I participate in a meeting.”

Aspects of Lamoureux’s life outside of work — her dining room, her puppy, and her laundry — will inevitably mingle with Lamoureux’s work, and she’s okay with that.

As she puts it, “Am I always at my desk? No. Am I still working and being productive? Yes. Do I have a better work-life balance? Absolutely.”

In terms of leadership, there’s a delicate balance between encouraging authenticity and expecting your employees to deliver results, but with empathy and trust, you can find a way to accomplish both.

Lamoureux told me, “I expect my team to be responsible, responsive, and complete what needs to be completed. I also expect them to take care of their family obligations and their health. We do a work-life blend at Credly — meaning there will be times we are online shopping for new shoes on Tuesday at 3 p.m. (and getting opinions from coworkers), and other times when we’re answering emails at 9 p.m. on a Thursday. The bottom line is that I want them to set healthy boundaries because it’s necessary for us all to do good work.”

How can you encourage authenticity in the workplace?

Creating fun ways for employees to interact with one another that isn’t work-related is an effective starting point for encouraging authenticity.

At Credly, Lamoureux’s team has coffee breaks and book clubs to connect with one another and learn more about each other as full human beings.

  • Coffee Breaks: We have a weekly coffee break with only one rule: no work allowed. Sometimes, we incorporate a theme into our coffee breaks encouraging people to dress up or bring something to share. It allows us to show bits of ourselves in a fun way. We’ve learned so much about one another from these casual conversations.
  • Book Club: we generally read 2-3 books per year as a team. Sometimes, they are work-related, but sometimes they aren’t. We’ve had such deep, rich discussions in those book club meetings!

Additionally, one of the most effective and simple ways to encourage authenticity is to lead by example. The more authentic you can be as a leader, the more you’re giving employees permission to do the same. 

How do businesses fail when it comes to creating an authentic culture?

Finally, I asked Lamoureux how she feels most businesses fail when it comes to authenticity.

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quote from credly vp on authenticity at work

She told me, “I think most businesses want the best for their employees but are afraid to reset what a productive, professional environment looks like. Our world of work isn’t what it was two years ago, and as the world opens up again and employees return to offices, I think it could be tempting for business leaders to try to function the same way they did pre-pandemic.”

“It’s the baseline for ‘normal’ — how things used to be. But with all the turmoil of the pandemic, we’ve also learned new, wonderful ways of working and it’s essential that organizations keep those elements.”

Ultimately, it’s critical your team learns how to pivot and meet the needs of each employee today. Perhaps those needs have changed as a result of the pandemic; or, maybe the pandemic simply brought them to light. Either way, to increase the satisfaction, engagement, and happiness of your employees, it’s vital you encourage and foster authenticity.

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MARKETING

How clean, organized and actionable is your data?

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90% of marketers say their CDP doesn't meet current business needs

A customer data platform (CDP) centralizes an organization’s customer data, providing a single 360-view of each consumer that engages with the company. Yet there are still data-related considerations that organizations have to make beyond what the CDP does.

“[CDPs] were designed to fill a need – to enable a marketer to easily get to the data they need to create their segmentation and then go on and mark it from that point,” said George Corugedo, CTO of data management company Redpoint Global, at The MarTech Conference. “But the issue is that CDPs really don’t take care of the quality aspects of the data.”

Maintaining data quality also impacts segmentation, campaigns and privacy compliance challenges for marketing teams that use this data.

Data quality

The data in a CDP depends on the quality of where it came from. Therefore, an organization using a CDP must also consider the quality of the data sources and reference files used to build out the CDP.

“The inevitable question is going to be, how good is this data?” said Corugedo. “How much can I trust it to make a bold decision?”

This is something that has to be on every organization’s radar. For instance, when identity resolution is used, the issue depends on the quality of the third-party reference files. If they are provided by a telecommunications company or credit bureau as the data partner, those files might only be updated quarterly.

“It’s just not an optimal solution, but every single CDP on the market uses some form of reference file,” Corugedo stated.

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It’s up to the data scientists and other team members working within the organization to own the accuracy of these data sources.

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Read next: What is a CDP?

Segmentation and other actions

The quality of the data using specific reference files and sources will vary and will impact the confidence that marketers have in creating segments and using them when deploying campaigns.

Marketers have to make this decision at a granular level, based on the trustworthiness of data from a particular lineage.

“If they have a campaign that is reliant on suspect data, they can actually delay that campaign and say maybe we wait until that data gets refreshed,” said Corugedo.

Otherwise, marketers are just “spraying and praying.”

Using rules instead of lists

The advantage of having a CDP is unification of all data. But the data is being updated all the time. Instead of deploying campaigns based on a fixed list of customers, the use of rules to define segments allows marketers to update who they engage in the campaign.

“A list, as soon as it’s detached from the database, starts to decay because it doesn’t get any updates anymore,” Corugedo, adding that using lists takes longer to execute a campaign.

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Lower quality from data that isn’t updated can have serious implications for healthcare and other industries, where accuracy is essential. 

“Instead, rules are passed through the campaign just like they would be with a list, but those rules reevaluate every time there’s a decision point to make sure that only the qualified people get the particular content at that point,” Corugedo explained.


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Privacy and regulatory compliance

Maintaining data quality through a Redpoint Global dashboard, or a similar combination of tools and data personnel, will also help an organization manage privacy.

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The crucial point is that people on the team know where the data came from and how it’s being used in campaigns. The stakes for sending out relevant messaging are high. Privacy and compliance issues raise the bar even higher.

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If you’re using a CDP, you can save headaches and extra labor by using a tool that has compliance and privacy baked in, so to speak.

“What we’ve done is embrace some of this complexity and absorb it into the environment, so the marketer never even sees it,” said Corugedo. “What we do is with every implementation, we will implement a PII vault that keeps PII data super secure, and we can anonymize the marketing database.”

This way, personal information of individual customers (PII) is never violated.

“Marketers ultimately don’t necessarily need to have visibility to PII,” Corugedo explained “They like to see it for testing purposes and making sure that it looks right and everything, but the truth is we can do that in other ways without revealing PII.”

Having a handle on data quality adds to the confidence marketing teams have in creating segments and executing campaigns, and it can also help protect the customer’s privacy and guard against regulatory infringements.

Facts not fiction: Beyond the CDP from Third Door Media on Vimeo.

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About The Author

Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on “innovation theater” at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.

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