I remember my very first job. I was hired by a local pizzeria to wash dishes. I remember the boss telling me on my first day of work that I was being hired to do a job. I wasn’t being hired to socialize. He didn’t bring me on so that he could help make me a better person. He needed his dishes washed and I agreed to wash them. It was strictly a business arrangement.
That first job was over 40 years ago. A lot has changed since then. These days, I am self-employed and thankful for it. I could not imagine working for someone else in a culture that has all but obliterated the business arrangement of employment. What happened?
I Have a Job to Do
As a self-employed business owner, I have a job to do. I provide a product. My customers expect me to produce a product they can use. They have every right to that expectation. After all, that is what they pay me for.
They are not paying me to change the world. They are not paying me to tell them how to live their lives, how to run their businesses, or even how to be better people. I have a job to do, and I am expected to do it. I fear that too many workplaces don’t have that mentality.
Authenticity Is the Hot Trend
My concerns for the modern workplace revolve around the many progressive movements that seem to have invaded every corner of society. Right now, the hot trend in the workplace is authenticity. I get it. People want the freedom to be who they truly are in the workplace. I don’t disagree with that in principle. And as long as a company can accommodate that without jeopardizing its own existence, I’m even on board with it.
All that being said though, companies do not hire employees to be authentic. They hire because they need work done. Work is the employee’s first and most important responsibility. And truth be told, there are times when a person’s genuine authenticity is incompatible with their job.
Let’s say John is hired as a security guard. He is being paid to guard the entrance of a building. One of his jobs is to check bags before allowing people to enter. The job comes with confrontation and conflict. It is unavoidable. But if John’s authentic self is averse to confrontation, he must either put his authentic self aside at work or jeopardize building security.
When Authenticity Doesn’t Work
John’s position isn’t unique. A lot of people work in jobs that are not aligned with what they consider their true authenticity. In some cases, accommodations can be made. There are other times when a person’s genuine authenticity just doesn’t work in their job. Then what?
The person can demand changes, look for another job, or go out and start a new business. The third choice gives the individual the freedom to be authentic at work without restriction. It works for the owners of the Plurawl LatinX clothing brand, the company was started by an NY man who felt his authenticity at work was being squelched. He is now doing quite well selling LatinX sweatshirts, t-shirts, and more.
Here is the thing: he now has the freedom to hire other people to do a job. And should he decide to do that, he will be hiring them to perform work. It is a business transaction. That is the way it should be. It’s the way things used to be in the American workplace. Unfortunately, it is not the norm in a lot of companies nowadays.