Leading with empathy makes the whole difference. In this article, we already discussed the meaning of empathy, the difference between cognitive, emotional and compassionate empathies and the role they each play in workplace dynamics, forming an essential part of any successful business.
Now, having acknowledged that empathy plays such a fundamental role that it might even define the course of the enterprise itself, it’s time to dig deeper, learn how to apply it and also, how to improve it.
A lot has been said already about its implementation, but the truth is that there is still a long way to go.
Most corporations still struggle to understand the real value of empathy which, ultimately, should be at the core of any company culture.
Why? Well, leading with empathy is not easy. Firstly, because it relates to ethics and secondly, because it works in favour of the company, bringing loyalty, productivity, and benefits.
Instead of beginning a real implementation project (like regular meetings and seminars to learn and discuss the topic and decide the best course of action, or getting a consultant in to facilitate the changes), employers are finding more and more employees resigning on a daily basis as a consequence of “false empathy”, or the pretence of an empathetic approach.
Not to mention the high cost of losing clients, which is another flagrant example of the lack of empathy in any business.
So, how does a company take the big step and begin a serious and long-lasting transformation?
The first step towards leading with empathy should be to acknowledge the lack of an empathetic culture and the second is to also acknowledge the need to create one at the heart of the company.
Once these two primordial steps are completed, the company can move forward and begin the process.
Here are some ideas that can be implemented across a corporation by each and everyone in it. These strategies/new behaviours will change the face – and the heart – of your company:
• Pay close attention to your clients’ needs and requirements
• Improve timing and quality in the delivery of goods or services, according to your clients’ needs
• Make meaningful and long-lasting connections with key members in the organisation
• Be able to solve difficulties or help others with hindrances, in time
• Create bonds and connections that will form the basis for future loyalty
• Create (physical) space and time for those connections to flourish
• Open the doors to innovation based on trust and respect
But there is more: what else you can do to lead with empathy, right now?
Well, you can:
• Show gratitude: say thank you more often, appreciate the time and effort that others invest in you, your product and your service. Give credit for the things well done. Being grateful not only creates bonds but also shows respect and dignity
• Show you listen and care: practice active listening which can restore confidence and help build loyalty. A high percentage of employees, as well as customers, feel their opinion doesn’t matter. Make yourself available: create surveys, ask direct questions, handle 1-to-1 meetings, be sure that your customer service is providing the necessary assistance
• Share stories with a positive outlook, whenever you can but especially before beginning a meeting. Sharing creates a bond and helps to set an ambiance of collaboration, willingness, openness and receptiveness
• Listen to your co-workers and team members. Make some extra time to give others the opportunity to share. Make room, physically and emotionally, for the others’ experiences. Let people talk and listen to their stories.
And…there is even more you can do!
• Give constructive feedback. If you find yourself having to give negative feedback, walk the extra mile in the shoes of your employee and try to create a constructive atmosphere. With the right words, you will reinforce your employee’s confidence instead of making them feel demotivated. This will open the doors to change and improvement
• Pay real attention to your customers. If you understand their needs and learn to decode them, you will be able to point the company in the right direction, also giving it the chance to be open to creativity and innovation.
(A similar post was previously published in Chery McMillan website).