The Self-Aware Individual in the Workplace

The Self-Aware Individual in the Workplace

Everyone knows that the employee is the most valuable asset in an organization—and a self-aware individual makes the perfect candidate for a job. In this article, discover why self-awareness is a crucial skill in the workplace and how your corporation can cultivate this kind of individuals.

According to a Harvard Business Review study, only 10-15% of people are truly self-aware.

Most people may be self-aware, but only these few people have mastered the art of self-awareness. Self-awareness is defined by psychologists as our ability to examine our thoughts, emotions, and actions and how it affects ourselves and others. It requires extensive self-examination without overestimating or underestimating ourselves—a process which is hard to do if we don’t believe in ourselves or believe too much on our skills.

Despite being a challenge to incorporate in the workplace, self-awareness is still a skill that organizations intend to cultivate among their workforce, especially to leaders. After all, studies show that emotional intelligence is a crucial skill for present and future leaders, with self-awareness being its foundation

To paint a big picture of how self-awareness can impact the workplace, explore some of the benefits of self-awareness to your organization.

The Benefits of Self-Awareness

  1. It helps people process feedback well.

Self-aware individuals don’t just rely on their own self-evaluations. They consider other people’s feedback as great points for improvement; thus, they welcome employee or manager evaluations. Rather than be offended by comments, they see them as better ways to handle things at work.

  1. It helps people make sound actions and reactions.  

Self-aware people always think before they act. They knew their actions, if not done right, can have an impact to themselves and the entire organization. This kind of people also learn to be more considerate and sensitive of their co-workers or employees. They can be straightforward in giving tasks or feedback, but also choses their words and actions carefully.

  1. It helps people maximize their skills.

A self-aware individual knows what he or she is capable of. They know how to maximize their skills and will even find ways to enhance them. In addition to that, they also know what they cannot do. But even if they have limits, they would be willing to break those limits if it means they can do better in the workplace.

  1. It helps people manage stress.

If a self-aware individual encounters a negative situation, they would know how to handle their emotions and actions. They accept their emotions and redirect them into other things. They don’t just blurt out of anger or disappointment, or let their personal issues become an excuse to treat their co-workers or employees poorly.

Now, imagine if the workforce is filled with self-aware individuals. It would inculcate a great culture of productivity, creativity, and accountability for each other’s actions. However, take note that there are different types and archetypes of self-awareness, and determining the type that an employee belongs in can help them improve on their self-awareness more.

The Types and Archetypes of Self-Awareness

There are two general types of self-awareness.

The first one is internal self-awareness, which is how an individual perceives his values, aspirations, thoughts, feelings, and strengths. He or she also regard how these personal aspects fit his or her environment, that is, the workplace.

The second one is external self-awareness, which is how the individual understands how his peers, family, friends, and other people regards his values, aspirations, thoughts, feelings, and strengths. This type of self-awareness is crucial for the employee’s self-improvement in terms of showing empathy and understanding others’ viewpoints.

According to Dr. Tasha Eurich, an organizational psychologist and researcher, these two categories are further divided into four archetypes.

The Introspectors

This kind of self-aware people knows and understands themselves. However, they do not welcome any ideas or actions of changing themselves. Introspectors can still succeed in the workplace, but their level of self-awareness will limit the kinds of success they can achieve and their working relationship with others.

The Seekers

The Seekers do not have any idea about their selves or how their co-workers perceive them. This can result to lack of self-direction not just at work but in their personal lives. It may also cause frustrations and less camaraderie with their fellow employees.

The Aware

The Aware is the best embodiment of a self-aware individual. This kind of person knows and understand his or herself, and also asks and values the opinion of the people around him or her. Aware individuals harness productivity and creativity in the workplace, and are also suitable for leadership positions.

The Pleasers

This kind of self-aware people values the feedback of others too much. In this case, they tend to disregard their own values and aspirations. Employees like this tend to take on tasks that are not designated to them and may lack self-confidence in terms of their skills at work. 

Action Plans to Cultivate a Self-Aware Organization

As it was mentioned earlier, only a small fraction of people truly belong to “The Aware” type of self-awareness. It will take time and effort to help the workforce grow into truly self-aware individuals, but it is not exactly impossible.

Check out the following action plans to foster self-awareness within your corporation.

  1. Identify realistic goals for self-awareness.

First of all, an organization must list down their self-awareness goals one by one. It should be something clear like “review and deploy new self-awareness tests monthly.” This goal must be communicated across all channels, so that the workforce is also working together with the higher-ups into achieving the goal.

A realistic time period must be set to check the progress of the said goal. Feedback must be welcomed from all sectors involved, which is also a good start for inculcating a culture of open communication in the office.

  1. Develop feedback skills.

It is easy to comment on other people’s actions or even that of ourselves. But how can we ensure these feedbacks sound exactly as they are, that is, points for improvement and not insults or personal attacks? Leaders can be straightforward to their employees about improving on certain aspects of the job, without belittling them or taking things personally. In the same way, employees do not have to be too harsh on their leaders’ shortcoming during work evaluations.

Offer communications workshops and activities for employees, specifically in giving and accepting feedback. Organizations must do these workshops and activities before the monthly or yearly self- or co-worker evaluations.

  1. Employ a coaching system.

A lot can happen in a day or a week, that when the time for monthly evaluations come, it will be too easy to overlook some disagreements or small successes at work. For this reason, corporations must adopt a coaching system. Employees and leaders may be instructed to team up and have each other to seek comments and feedback on their recent decisions.

Guidelines must be in place so that each employee and business leader know exactly what to target during coaching sessions. The workforce must be allowed to choose their coaches for a certain period, and will have to change to new ones after some time to develop camaraderie with other employees across the organization.

  1. Review self-awareness tests.

Self-awareness tests like the Myers-Briggs tests can also be a great way for employees to discover more about themselves. If the organization has other self-awareness tests that they are employing in their organizations, it’s time to let experts like organizational psychologists to review the effectiveness of these tests.

The results should also be interpreted and communicated by the experts, so that the workforce may have a more accurate explanation of their self-awareness levels. They can also consult the experts for sound tips and advice for follow-up.

  1. Invest on mindfulness workshops and activities.

Part of enhancing self-awareness is also working on one’s self. For this reason, employees must also be given company-sponsored mindfulness activities in the workplace. It could be added to team building or employee training activities for the year.

Still, these workshops can also be optional, so that employees can develop internal self-awareness in their own terms. To encourage active participation to these workshops, corporations may offer incentives or discounts for those who are willing to sign up and complete the said activities.


Self-awareness takes a lot of time and effort to cultivate. It is not something that can’t be rushed, since different people means different thoughts, feelings, and aspirations at work. Organizations must see inculcating a self-aware culture in the workforce as a lifelong commitment, not a mere timebound goal. They can accomplish this by constantly providing ways for employees and leaders to discover more about themselves, while also developing good relationships with their co-workers and superiors.


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Patricia Mae M. Estenoso, Creative Copywriter, CXO Connect ME