Managing with Empathy
Think for a moment about your favorite manager or leader. Someone who was in charge in the organization you worked for, or work for today. What is it about them that makes them your favorite?
Odds are, what you love about them has far more to do with interpersonal skills than anything else. They listen to you. They care about you. They invest in you. They help you.
Managers who understand how to be human at work - how to empathize with fellow employees and direct reports - are far superior to managers who ignore or tamp down emotional connections.
There is little reason to trust a manager who refuses to become vulnerable and share something about themselves, and there is little reason to trust a manager who, when you’re feeling vulnerable, keeps their response business-like - or, let’s face it, robotic.
Managing with empathy can mean a lot of simple things; it comes down to being human.
How to Manage with Empathy
Ask someone how they’re...
As a mediator, and a former community/political organizer, I’ve learned a lot about conflict. I founded Chantilly Mediation and Facilitation because Americans spend more time working than doing anything else - and we deserve to be happy at work. Conflict, while inevitable among humans, can be handled in ways that actually increase happiness.
There are four keys to building a happier workplace, and every one of them will help your employees deal with conflict more productively.
Your mindset is always a choice: When you can, choose curiosity. Someone at work is in your face, or didn’t do something they’re supposed to, or did do something they are not supposed to do. Instead of focusing on blame or disappointment or the person, start asking questions: Why did they behave that way? What might make them do that? What might they be thinking or feeling that would lead them to do or say...
I’m psyched to bring my Resolve Conflict Now training to BBG’s audience of HR professionals on September 18, 2019, in the comfort of their own offices - not BBG’s offices; this is a webinar anyone can join. It’s also free! Register here.
Part of the 101-level, one-hour webinar will focus on how to build a collaborative workforce. I sum it all up with four keys:
Let’s take them, briefly, one by one.
Your mindset is always a choice: When you can, choose curiosity. Someone at work is in your face, or didn’t do something they’re supposed to, or did do something they are not supposed to do. Instead of focusing on blame or disappointment, choose to get curious - Why did they behave that way? What might be happening that’s motivating them to do that thing that’s completely awful, in your opinion? Why exactly do you think it is completely awful?
Have a conversation with...
Someone asked me recently what the key is to happiness at work. I follow the PERK formula: Purpose, Engagement, Resilience, and Kindness.
Feeling happy at work requires knowing your purpose. Purpose has nothing to do with money. It’s not about a paycheck or profits. It’s knowing that what you do makes a difference in the world. Purpose is not necessarily about doing good; the difference may be about social status or power or something relatively insignificant - like - I make things people can store stuff in. Those who can easily connect their purpose to dearly-held personal values are even happier.
If you show up to work just for the paycheck, it’s not necessarily time to find a new job - spend some time thinking about your personal values, about everything you do in your job, and consider ways an outsider might view your job - perhaps a happy customer, for instance. Think about ways to connect your values with the benefits your job provides to others.
MBTI, Emergenetics, DISC, the Caliper Profile, OCEAN or HEXACO, the SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire…
I’ve always been fascinated by personality quizzes. To me, it makes perfect sense that personality assessments are a big business for workplaces. Certain modes of behavior are easier for some people than others, and that will align with certain jobs.
More importantly, when a team member understands how other team members tend to think and which behaviors might be their fallbacks, it can help a great deal. Teams who understand each others’ personalities tend to be more cohesive, collaborative, and effective.
I got started thinking about this again recently when I had the chance to take an Emergenetics assessment and participate in a workshop sponsored by MAFN that helped me better understand how Emergenetics views and talks about personality. Like the older Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), Emergenetics provides a...
This morning, I went to a local chapter of SHRM - that’s the Society for Human Resource Management. I had the opportunity to brainstorm how to handle it when an employee responds “very emotionally” during performance reviews, with “very emotionally” explained as “anger, tears, shouting, etc.”
My small group had experience in all aspects of human resource management, so we pooled our best advice; here it is!
Give Performance Feedback Often
Assuming the performance feedback was given during a formal evaluation, the first thing to understand is that nothing in a formal evaluation should be a surprise. Ideally, we all work with supervisors who let us know how we’re doing frequently, and talk to us as soon as problems arise.