Why Empathy Matters in the Workplace
Employing and training more capable managers and executives who can advance their organisations through both prosperous and trying times is crucial for businesses. For this, it’s necessary to look beyond conventional management development techniques and build the abilities that are crucial for success.
Perhaps surprisingly, one of those abilities is empathy, this is a crucial leadership skill.
To lead with empathy, you must be able to understand the needs of others and be conscious of their emotions and thoughts. Unfortunately, as a performance metric, it has long been a soft skill that is disregarded.
However, the successful leaders of today, must be more “person-focused” and able to get along with people from different teams, departments, nations, cultures, and backgrounds.
Our capacity for empathy and interpersonal connection is essential in life, both professionally and personally. Empathy is a crucial component of emotional intelligence and leadership success. It has been proven that exercising empathy in the workplace enhances human connections in general and can result in more effective communication and positive outcomes, both at work and at home.
Empathy is known as the capacity to understand and identify with the feelings, experiences, or thoughts of another. High-empathy individuals are adept at seeing things from another person’s point of view and responding in a compassionate manner.
Simply defined, the ability of your employees to form sincere, empathic connections with one another that enhance interactions and output is referred to as empathy in the workplace.
Since sympathy and empathy are sometimes misunderstood, it’s vital that we know the difference between the two.
Without truly thinking what it’s like to be in that other persons shoes, sympathy is often defined as feelings of pity for another person.
-In contrast, empathy is the aptitude or ability to put oneself in another person’s shoes and experience their feelings, ideas, or thoughts of that person.
How to be a more Empathetic Leader
Empathetic leadership can take many shapes and forms. Here are four steps to help guide you to better team management:
- Be on the lookout for burnout in your team
Workplace burnout is a common problem that we see today, and it is more likely to occur during periods of high stress and pressure. A lot of people today are under much stress, working longer hours, and finding it very difficult to draw the line between their personal lives from their professional lives.
Empathetic leaders are proficient at spotting signs of burnout in others before it worsens. This could involve spending a little extra time each week to have a brief check-in with team members to see how they’re managing the workload they’re now facing and assisting them in recovering from overwork.
- Genuinely care about other people’s wants, aspirations, and needs.
Leading with empathy involves taking the time to comprehend each team member’s unique needs and goals as well as determining how to best align job responsibilities with performance and employee satisfaction. Team members are more motivated and eager to go above and beyond when they see that their management values them in this way. At work, being courteous can enhance culture and productivity.
- Show that you’re willing to assist a worker with personal issues.
The line separating business and personal life is blurring. The members of their teams are complex individuals who must juggle their personal and professional responsibilities, and empathic managers are aware of this. They are aware that it is part of their duty to lead and support those team members in times of need.
The team may foster psychological safety by keeping lines of communication open and encouraging transparency. This will give team members the confidence to open up when necessary.
One great way to show this support is by ensuring that your workplace has an EAP service in place to provide a set number of psychological sessions to your staff members when required. Learn more about our EAP services here.
- When others disclose a personal loss, be compassionate.
Genuine friendships and relationships at work are crucial, and managers may use empathetic leadership as a tool to develop connections with the team members they have the honour of overseeing. Because we have all suffered personal loss, even if we cannot understand the specific loss that a team member is going through, we can still express empathy and let them know they are supported.
If you struggle with empathy in the workplace, thankfully, learning leadership with empathy can be acquired. Leaders can improve their empathy abilities through coaching, training, or other developmental opportunities and initiatives if given appropriate time and support. If you are interested in workplace coaching, Positive Mind Works can help. Get in touch on 1800 327 477 (AU) or 0800 327 477 (NZ)