11 Feb Welcoming the Year of the Ox and Building Values of Hard Work, Reliability, Honesty, and Humility
This Friday is the Lunar New Year, marking the arrival of the year of the Ox. According to the Chinese Zodiac, those born in the year of the Ox are honest and earnest, the reliable, hard workers in the background who don’t actively seek praise or recognition, but receive it anyway due to the quality of their efforts.
For many organizations, the traits of hard work, reliableness, honesty, and humility are ones that make an ideal employee. But of course, one doesn’t have to be born in the year of the Ox to have these traits. Additionally, by having the right culture and leaders who model such behavior, organizations can launch initiatives to have employees behave in such ways.
Benefits of these behaviors
While it may seem straightforward to want employees who’re hard-working, reliable, honest, and humble because it’s simply better to work in an organization with good people, there are definitely clear business benefits to hiring people who favor the previous traits. Why do we say favor? If asked to choose between a list of good traits to embody, most people would choose all of them. However, in certain cases it’s difficult to embody all these traits, leading organizations to create a values hierarchy (in which certain values are placed higher and prioritized than others) within their culture. In this case, why favor hard work, reliableness, honesty, and humility over other traits?
A values hierarchy that places hard work, reliableness, honesty, and humility high up
It’s pretty straightforward why you’d want employees to be hardworking and reliable. While TV shows often feature characters who’re geniuses with a less than stellar work ethic, these types of personalities would be liabilities to an organization, so it’s best to hire people who’re hard-working and reliable. However, what about honesty and humility?
Honest employees make for more productive performance evaluations and better feedback
When everyone is honest, there will be high trust. Feedback will be accepted, be more productive because everyone in the team trusts one another to be honest about the feedback. A culture that prioritizes honesty will have more productive performance evaluations. Managers benefit when their employees can discuss areas of improvement without fear of retribution. When honest people work together, a culture of openness and trust is built. Pe When people in a culture prioritize honesty over say being nice, it means that areas of improvement can be quickly identified and acted on, without there being any dithering on the employee or supervisor’s part, worrying about hurting the other’s feelings. This doesn’t mean you should be cutting with your feedback. Honest feedback should be delivered kindly.
Humble leaders are more effective (proven by studies)
Here, we’re defining humility as the ability to welcome feedback and criticism, taking it to self reflect and accurately assess our limitations, allowing us to be more open to excellent ideas from others. A study by the University of Washington Foster School of Business has proven, yes proven, that humble leaders are the most effective type of leader.
“Our study suggests that a ‘quieter’ leadership approach — listening, being transparent, aware of your limitations and appreciating co-workers strengths and contributions, is an effective way to engage employees,” say the researchers behind the University of Washington study.
Additionally, humble leaders will also be seen as more honest, and therefore trustworthy, leading to higher performance.
Humble employees will also acknowledge their limitations as an individual, a mindset crucial to building solid teams.
Building traits of honesty and humility in your employees
As with most culture building initiatives, the biggest impact comes from the actions of leadership. When your employees see a humble leader, they see humility as one of the valued behaviors in the organization’s culture, that propels a person to higher positions.
Leaders should 1. Listen more while actively encouraging employees to voice their ideas, 2. Perform regular SWOT assessments to build self-awareness, let employees identify their own strengths and weaknesses, while also knowing the strengths and weaknesses of their team members. 3. Invest greatly in learning and development programs, to send the overarching message that there is always more to learn.
To build honesty, first, you must understand that it takes time. be open with your mistakes and setbacks. Take blame while also giving credit, to build the sense that you (the leader) and your employees are all working towards shared goals.
Do you feel ready to instill your employees with the traits of those born in the year of the Ox? Happy Lunar New Year!