Another Thanksgiving is in the books. The turkey is done and you may have even pulled out your winter holiday decorations. But that doesn’t mean the season for gratitude has passed. Being thankful is something everyone should aspire toward all year long, especially in the workplace. Your team deserves to feel appreciated for the work they do. There could be one more piece to the puzzle that will make for a healthier and more engaging office environment. Do you have empathy for your employees? Here’s why it’s incredibly important and how you can cultivate it starting now.
What is Empathy?
In general, empathy is the ability for a person to see and understand another’s feelings. The old saying, “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes,” is directly related to empathy. As humans, it’s normal for us to view the world from our own lens. But we do have to take into account how others view the world and try to get into their mindset to understand the choices and decisions they make.
Being empathetic doesn’t mean you always have to agree with another person. If you find their feelings are harmful in any way, it’s okay to disagree with them. However, empathy is the first stepping stone to build a bridge.
How Can it Motivate Your Team?
If you accept the role as an empathetic leader in your workplace, you’ll empower your employees to express their feelings. They won’t believe that they need to hide or pretend about anything because they’ll feel comfortable approaching you when there may be problems. And knowing about problems is the only way to truly solve them.
Empathy builds a sense of trust. It can let your team feel more comfortable working with you as a manager and they’ll know they’re appreciated and valued.
How Can it Make You a Better Manager?
A study by DDI, a leading global consultant in HR management, demonstrated that leaders with empathy were also strong in other areas of management such as coaching, decision-making, and their overall performance in the workplace. At the very least, managers who have natural empathetic skills were more likely to connect with their team.
When a manager believes that empathy is too much trouble or that they don’t have time to make these workplace connections, the system begins to break down and they’re more likely to see dissatisfied workers.
How Can You Cultivate Empathy?
But empathy doesn’t need to be an inherent trait that you’re born with. Humans have the ability to cultivate empathy over the course of their lives. Here are just a few things you can do to exercise this skill and nurture it.
- Listen to hear, not to respond.
- Ask others how their day is going.
- Learn about other people and cultures.
- Understand body language.
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