It’s a new year and the work world has changed in ways you probably couldn’t envision. Your teams are now dispersed, possibly with the majority working from home. A global pandemic perhaps derailed your supply chain. Paycheck protection, social distancing, and the Delta variant all became common watchwords of 2021. But the word of the day for 2022 is “empathy.” Google “leadership empathy 2022” and you’ll get dozens of hits that Fortune says “is the go-to leadership skill of the moment.” What is empathy and why does it embody the successful leader of 2022?
What is Empathy?
Empathy is a skill rooted in kindness toward others. In the workplace, it signals a leader that can listen to their employees and relate to their situation or the feelings they have. It’s not sympathy; you can understand where an employee is coming from without being so crippled by pity that you have trouble making business decisions. Instead, empathy is really about understanding the needs, wants, and priorities of your teams.
So many bosses get this wrong. Perhaps this played a role in the 2021 Great Resignation—or perhaps not. We do know that employees leave your company in part due to a non-productive or otherwise difficult work environment. If you are a manager that exhibits empathy toward your employees, this could help create a better environment that could improve retention.
Why Does Empathy Matter for a Manager?
There are actually tangible benefits of being able to “walk a mile in your employee’s shoes” for a moment. Having empathy can help you understand your workforce well enough to help them overcome any challenges they might be facing that could reduce their productivity. This obviously could affect your bottom line.
Empathy, when applied correctly can help you build a better sense of trust with your teams. This strengthens the relationship not only between you and your employees but also will help with engaging your workforce in the success of your mission and goals. The key is that you want to create an environment where the employee wants to succeed. If this happens, everyone wins.
What Skills Should an Empathic Manager Exhibit?
We believe empathy is a practice. It’s an ongoing characteristic that you can learn. Empathy stems from listening closely both to what the employee says and what’s happening in your workforce. Having an ear to the ground to spot general trends is just as important as 1:1 conversation.
One leader put it this way, “What the pandemic did was make everybody realize we were all in the same storm, but our boats were quite different. We had to become very clear about the importance of listening to people, and understanding their needs, and being flexible.” The best thing that empathic leaders can do is seek to understand what’s happening with their workforce. Once that basic understanding is in place, you can create work situations that play to the strengths of your employees and teams while shoring up their weaknesses. That should be the goal of any manager working on empathy in 2022.
PrideStaff Thousand Oaks practices active listening and empathy with both our candidates and business clients. We can help your business succeed in the New Year. Start the conversation and find out how we can help.