In part one – “Leadership Efficiency starts with Empathy” we started the conversation about what is Empathy and why it matters, we are continuing the discussion about the importance of Empathy in the workplace
In the workplace, managers are valued more for their people skills than their technical knowledge as per the Washington Business Journal, I have seen it many times, hardworking managers that have a lot of experience not moving up or barely advancing in their careers as they lack bedside manners or people skills. Emotional Intelligence and mainly empathy is getting in touch with one’s emotions and managing them when interacting with others for better managerial effectiveness.
One of the main managers’ job is to put out fires between diverse people as we work with a complex bunch of human beings (ethnically, racially, culturally, generationally, religiously, gender or sex orientation different) making all parties feel valued and respected and coming to a point of understanding that conflicting can be drawn to a win-win result rather than a win-lose theory.
Managers have to pull everyone in agreement in a respectful way, this can happen only if managers learn to be better with their emotions and not letting them control them, it is the key to getting through the workday. The only question is this: who is managing the manager and his or her emotions?
Employees’ perceptions of whether they are respected, regarded, and valued by management or not; depends on their cultural lens, their background, experiences, values and beliefs, this is where managers’ empathy is crucial to be able to deliver those feelings and use the proper words and expressions and how they are delivered
It is no secret that diversity, inclusion and culture competence rely heavily on empathy; where employees feel valued and respected for who they are individually is huge in increasing employee engagement, resulting in increased retention, job satisfaction, and job performance. When employees do not feel respected the results are correspondingly negative.
Not applying empathy, managers’ attitudes will lead to absenteeism, low morale, poor job performance and a lack of motivation, the insensitive, un-empathetic treatment of employees has been linked to accidents, sabotage and violence. Employees cannot be involved and engaged in a positive way if they are experiencing negative actions and reactions from their managers
Interpersonal skills training or diversity training alone doesn’t work, a clear understanding of why and how to acquire “empathy” has to be a block in building those trainings, also visiting unconscious bias and its reasons, and come out with solutions is at the root of advancing in acquiring empathy
Where to start?
1- The first step in learning or acquiring empathy starts from within, and not by studying people around us, is by starting to be self-aware mainly of our own unconscious bias and prejudice (and who doesn’t have them) understanding that they are natural to have, and to be aware not to take them to the next level.
2- We need to remember that perceptions are realities for some people that cultures are like lenses through which we see the world so we need to remember that others have their own lenses too through which they see their world. Expecting others to act and behave the way we act and behave, expecting people to meet us at our end is insane.
3- We need to have the self-discipline to either change our attitudes or become open minded or seek help from professionals like coaches.
4- Every workplace has its own organizational culture based on the vision, mission and core values created by its leaders and executives, so if empathetic respectful treatment of their employees is not a priority in their values, engraved in the terminology used in the vision and mission of the organization, or is not a part of managers’ performance evaluation upon which they get promoted or getting bonuses, then there will be no incentive for managers to change their attitudes.
That means that it rolls from the top down, as any other important initiative it needs to be promoted, lived, committed to, and exemplified by top executive and leaders
Only when managers feel that there are consequences to their behavior towards their employees, will start see the value of their own personal development in interpersonal soft skills to learn behaviors that encourage empathy and communicate respect to the employees.
I help corporations and organizations create/ increase their employee engagement through Diversity, Inclusion, effective communication & Cross- Cultural leadership practices that result in everyone feeling appreciated, valued and respected for who they are; elevating morale and harmony hence increasing their productivity which translates to more revenues.
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