The Role of Identity in People Management


Theories of management encourage professionals in senior positions to examine the needs of their followers and make informed decisions to support the intended objectives. Identity has emerged as a critical attribute capable of determining the overall success of individuals in any given working environment. In most cases, leaders rely on their competencies to solve emerging challenges, offer additional support, and create room for improved productivity. When employees are managed in a proper manner, chances are high that the targeted company will record positive outcomes. Desirable management theory needs to integrate elements of humanism and behaviorism. The notion of humanism identifies employees as good stakeholders who need specific support and resources to portray desirable behavior. The leading question is: How does a person’s identity play a significant role in the management of people in organizations?

Key Concepts

Human Resource Management (HRM)

The concept of human resource management (HRM) has remained instrumental in different fields. In many companies, HRM encompasses the manner in which people are hired, empowered, performance-managed, trained, and guided in organizations. Leaders can apply ‘soft’ HRM efforts to train and develop the workforce (Brown, 2017). They can go further to develop flexible work practices and teamwork approaches to promote the highest level of commitment among employees. This concept is directly linked to employee identity and could benefit from the continuous application of humanism and behaviorism theories.

Defining Identity

The concept of identity remains widely studied in different fields, including business management, the healthcare sector, aviation, and governance. Trivedi and Mehta (2019) define identity as a person’s subjective view and interpretation of who they think they are. Such an analysis goes further to suggest that people’s personal attributes, willingness to join groups, and demographic attributes would reshape identity. Popova-Nowak (2019) goes further to consider race, gender, ethnicity, religion, and culture as powerful attributes that define a person’s identity. In another study, Brown (2017) expanded the concept to present the notion of organizational identity. According to Warrick (2017), it refers to the state of attributes, views, and statements that workers in a specific company relate with, perceive to be critical, and capable of supporting much-needed goals.

Identity at Work

The force of capitalism has led to numerous models for improving organizational performance while guiding more people to achieve their goals. The force of globalization and the emerging technology have led to neo-liberalism, whereby workers engage in a wide range of activities to realize their maximum potential. In different organizational environments, employees and leaders have mastered the role and applicability of various theories to maximize performance. For example, Trivedi and Mehta (2019) identify Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory as a superior framework for analyzing people’s feelings at the workplace and their subsequent views or decisions.

In the recent past, the nature of the typical workplace has been changing significantly. For instance, Heckert, Boumans and Vliegenthart (2020) assert that the emerging wave of capitalism is transforming work roles, the nature of the completed activities, and the anticipated outcomes. Most of the goods and services that used to be delivered to clients physically have changed due to the emerging digital economy. Consequently, these trends are dictating the nature of the emerging roles in organizations and the manner in which people are engaging in self-images that are directly related to their professionals (Caza, Vough and Puranik, 2018). These issues explain why academia’s interest has grown to investigate these attributes and how leaders could rely on them to guide their followers.

The primary aim of any form of organizational activity has always been to deliver timely results. Caza, Vough and Puranik (2018) indicate that work engagement and personal identity function synergistically to improve overall organizational experiences and outcomes. Any person who displays a positive sense of identity will become more motivated and eventually be ready to connect with other individuals in the organization. In most companies with efficient leaders, positive results tend to emerge since most of the followers find meaning in the process (Brown, 2017). They also rely on their identities to engage others, address some of the emerging disputes, and consider evidence-based ideas to improve the overall level of sustainability.

Scholars have widened the concept of identity in such a way that it integrates the notions of an organization. A multidimensional work concept emerges that is capable of reflecting an employee’s self-image. The idea will also go further to integrate the occupational, organizational, and personal attributes associated with the formulated work identity (Popova-Nowak, 2019). The individual will then be encouraged to shape behaviors, roles, and goals based on the nature of the tasks he or she performs at the workplace (Popova-Nowak, 2019). Therefore, managers who want to achieve meaningful results should be able to analyze most of these emerging issues and consider the best approaches to apply them within the wider organizational setting.

The concept of identity is complex and compels leaders to examine the individual from different perspectives. Specifically, this personality attribute is dictated by the person’s past experiences in life, some of the acquired organizational competencies, and cultural norms. These forces work synergistically to reshape one’s identity, thereby influencing most of the emerging behaviors, roles, and tendencies the individual associates with (Brown, 2017). Such an individual would go further to focus on the best approaches for work engagement in a way that is fulfilling and capable of leading him or her to self-actualization.


The concept of identity is multifaceted since it arises from a person’s past experiences, cultural associations, and goals in life. These external forces link the intrinsic personality of an individual to deliver an identity that determines a wide range of his or her engagements in life. Popova-Nowak (2019) is convinced that workers in a particular setting would tend to portray diverse identities even if they all focus on the outlined shared values and goals. Based on this kind of knowledge, Gonzales-Miranda (2020) expands the notion to present the term “organizational identity”. This new concept presents the specific set of principles, statements, and ideas that all people in a given company take seriously and follow to pursue the outlined objectives.

In any given organization, leaders need to focus on the displayed identities and consider some of the notable personal differences. The involved managers will be aware of the unique expectations, the level of dedication, and the willingness of the people to concentrate on various assignments. Competent professionals will also examine how the working environment resonates with the specific workers’ religious, philosophical, ethical, and societal norms (Brown, 2017). The strategy will create additional opportunities for engaging the workers and learning more about their overall expectations from the working environment.

Based on the emerging insights, managers need to craft and promote a new organizational identity that needs to be founded on the attributes of most of their followers. Such an identity would inform the most appropriate culture and work arrangements. Every objective or mission needs to be in tandem with the overall views and goals of the individuals. Consequently, the managers will find meaning in the new arrangements and consider the most appropriates strategies to lead them (Sanyal and Hisam, 2018). They will create new opportunities for mentoring, guiding, and empowering the intended employees.

The concept of identity has the potential the compel leaders to take the notion of work engagement seriously. This means that the leaders will be willing to make timely decisions and guide all workers using a personalized approach. These efforts will amount to effective management of the human resources at the specific company (Sanyal and Hisam, 2018). When done properly, the targeted beneficiaries will realize that the organization supports their needs and creates room for completing meaningful work (Mujib, 2017). The individuals will be in a position to receive resources that resonate with their demands and personal philosophies.

The nature of these efforts will ensure that most of the workers in the specific organization remain engaged. The level of self-efficacy will increase significantly since the individuals will be performing tasks that are acceptable or fulfilling. They will be ready to apply most of their resources and skill sets in such a way that desired goals are eventually recorded (Popova-Nowak, 2019). A professional manager will capitalize on the identities of his or her followers to consider the most appropriate tactics to ensure that they remain engaged continuously.

The power of identity could be expanded to influence other areas of people’s management. Zafar and Hummayun (2020) appreciate the fact that a detailed understanding of the unique identities different workers exhibit could become a guiding principle for identifying individuals to benefit from succession planning. Identities could become the best benchmarks for providing the much-needed work-life balance and additional incentives (Yuniati et al., 2021). Leaders within an organization could also strive to get the most from most of the workers and eventually reshape overall organizational performance.

Similarly, managers in different units can take the issue of identity seriously and link it to the overall performance of different employees. Such a practice will set the stage for identifying the most appropriate candidate who could benefit from the implemented employee training and talent management projects (Yuniati et al., 2021). For example, the leader would appreciate that the level of work engagement is usually validated by the overall identity of the individual. Within the organization, the manager will consider the best approaches to maximize meanings and translate them into stable engagements (Warrick, 2017). When done properly, organizational leaders can go further to develop new frameworks for promoting the most appropriate processes and action plans that can eventually deliver the much-needed results.

Within the workplace, identity can become a powerful tool for managers to understand and present the most appropriate interventions. The emerging attributes could also help develop a superior organizational identity that is founded on the best culture, structure, and strategy (Brown, 2020). The proposed efforts will dictate the manner in which employees need to be guided and motivated. These elements will set the stage for creating meaningful work without risks, thereby setting the stage for improved organizational profitability.

Based on the insights described above, organizations can apply various theories to learn more about individuals’ behaviors and aims. Some of the workable frameworks include humanism and behaviorism. The professionals can consider the unique personal attributes of the individuals and engage in desirable practices to train and empower them. According to Zafar and Hummayun (2020), the use of succession planning and employee management strategies could help shape their identities and guide them to deliver results. The development of an effective culture can set the stage for continued involvement, solving emerging issues and promoting a sense of contentment.

Depending on the nature of the targeted organization, the use of humanistic and behaviorist models could help understand people’s intrinsic attributes and the kind of support they can get. When done properly, leaders will be able to promote the best HRM practices and strategies that can reshape followers’ identities in a positive manner (Heckert, Boumans & Vliegenthart, 2020). Organizational managers who consider these key issues will find it easier to promote the best personalities and align them to the wider business model. The notions of identity could become powerful tools for career development in the workplace. Business firms need to match their missions with the capabilities of the existing employees to emerge successful.


The above discussion has revealed that identity is a unique attribute that defines a person’s past, current views, and future goals. Managers can rely on it to offer personalized support, promote talent management, and guide the involved followers to focus on the wider organizational goals. In terms of implications, the analyzed attribute becomes a powerful model for pursuing people’s management and ensuring that a sense of understanding is applied to influence organizational culture and strategy. When done correctly, managers will continuously empower their workers and minimize obstacles to organizational performance.

Reference List

Brown, A. (2020) The Oxford handbook of identities in organizations. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Brown, A.D. (2017) ‘Identity work and organizational identification’, Special Issue: Exploring the Registers of Identity Research, 19(3), pp. 296-317.

Caza, B.B., Vough, H. and Puranik, H. (2018) ‘Identity work in organizations and occupations: definitions, theories, and pathways forward’, Journal of Organizational Behavior, 39(7), pp. 889-910.

Gonzales-Miranda, D.R. (2020) ‘Organizational identity: components and construction’, Innovar, 30(78), pp. 89-103.

Heckert, R., Boumans, J., & Vliegenthart, R. (2020) ‘How to nail the multiple identities of an organization? A content analysis of projected identity’, VOLUNTAS: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 31(1), pp. 129-141.

Mujib, H. (2017) ‘Organizational identity: an ambiguous concept in practical terms’, Administrative Sciences, 7(3), pp. 28-57.

Popova-Nowak, I.V. (2019) Work identity and work engagement. Washington: The George Washington University.

Sanyal, S. and Hisam, M. (2018) ‘The impact of teamwork on work performance of employees’, IOSR Journal of Business Management, 20(3), pp. 15-22.

Trivedi, A.J. and Mehta, A. (2019) ‘Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – theory of human motivation’, International Journal of Research in all Subjects in Multi Languages, 7(6), 38-41. Web.

Warrick, D.D. (2017) ‘What leaders need to know about organizational culture’, Business Horizons, 60(3), pp. 395-404.

Yuniati, E. et al. (2021) ‘Talent management and organizational performance: the mediating role of employee engagement’, Management Science Letters, 11(9), pp. 1-6.

Zafar, A. and Hummayun, G. (2020) ‘Effect of succession planning on organizational growth’, Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities, 59(1), 21-33.

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