What are the skills and attributes you think of when describing a good leader?
Words such as Integrity, Courage, Respect, Communication, and Delegation might all come to mind. Would you add Empathy to that list?
Empathy is a skill that is often overlooked, but one that can inspire the most out of your employees.
Described as “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another,” empathy refers to the recognition of other people’s feelings and needs. Being empathetic can improve poor morale, solve disputes and misunderstandings, and lead to a greater understanding of one’s employees. In other words, empathy can be the key ingredient for a positive work environment and satisfied employees.
Empathy can be mistaken for sympathy. So what is the difference?
Empathy is the ability to understand and relate to the feelings and emotions of another, as if they were your own. Sympathy is more of a feeling of pity or sorrow for someone. In other words, most employees do not want to be pitied, but they do want you to understand their situation and be attentive to their needs.
How can you be more empathetic to your employees?
Pay attention and listen
Every employee is unique in their own way. Some may readily communicate their needs or worries to you, while others might try to hide them for fear of being portrayed as needy. Know how to recognize when an employee needs your understanding and attention, or when they want to be heard. Many employees have ideas for improvement, but don’t know how to communicate them effectively. Be aware of their facial expressions, recognize the subtle hints that something is bothering them, or that they need to talk, and act in such a way as to say that you understand and are there to help in any way possible.
Train your team to be more empathetic
Likewise, teach your team how to be more considerate of their colleagues’ feelings. Misunderstandings between employees will only create a toxic work environment. Look for some common signs of emotion: facial expressions, postures, sighs, tone of voice, the content of what others say, staring, or even failure to offer any eye contact. By training your employees to be more empathetic, you are improving not only their lives, but the atmosphere in which they work.
Why does empathy matter so much in the workplace?
The success of your company depends on your employees. According to a Businessolver study, 31 percent of employees — nearly 1 of every 3 people! — believe that profit is all that matters to a company. For this reason alone, it is imperative to promote a healthy environment within your company in which your employees feel respected and valued. By doing so, your employees will be more productive and will feel more connected to the business. And this connectedness will surely promote profitable growth within your company. It’s a win/win situation!
(written by: Denise)