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Mild-Mannered Manager by Day…

…Mild-Mannered Manager by Night?

How much of our self is defined by our work? Where, for example, do small business owners’ professional and personal identities begin and end? What about those of doctors, oil rig workers, or priests?

Our two worlds, home and office, might not be so easy to separate, according to Erin Reid, assistant professor of organizational behavior. She’s helped develop a new theory of how people manage their nonwork identities in the workplace, arguing that exploring them has become increasingly important to understanding productivity, employee engagement and well-being, and office power dynamics.

“Managers typically either ask employees to bring their whole selves to work or ask them to keep their work and personal lives separate. There is an assumption that these demands will improve ­productivity,” says Reid. “Our research suggests these demands are often unwelcome or resisted. Managers should be aware of the demands they are making—explicit or implicit—and lower their ­expectation that workers will be able to easily set their own work and nonwork boundaries.”