Empathic Understanding

wearing someone else's shoes

Learning Who Our Employees Are through Empathic Understanding

 

Our philosophy behind the Art of Love is Good Business draws on several key ingredients. One of these is Empathic Understanding. The following is an excerpt from our upcoming book. In one chapter, we explore Empathic Understanding and its relevance to how we manage our employees. We hope you enjoy this short exploration. . .

An essential part of optimizing our effectiveness at achieving our management goals, is to manage our employee for who the employee is, not who we think the employee should be.

We all likely understand, at least to some degree, that we can’t use a one-size-fits-all approach to management. We need to manage employees as individuals​. This means working with each employee differently​ based on who they are as an individual person–someone with all the knowledge, skills, hopes, fears, weaknesses, and aspirations unique to them as an individual Human Being. This is critical information we need in order to be effective mangers.

Of course,  managing employees individually seems like a great idea. However, if you have tried to do this, you have likely found it very challenging, if not impossible, to do very well.

The key to doing this successfully​ is in discovering ​ who our employees truly are. As managers, we tend to see our employees only in terms of our expectations about the work they do and how they should do it.  This limited perspective of our employees obstructs our ability to manage them as individual people. It leaves us without vital details and nuances that give us a fuller context to the situation at hand, as well as a suitable awareness of their unique strengths and weaknesses as individuals. All of which is the kind of information we need to support them, as unique individuals, to be at the top of their game.

Context is everything. Without​ the right context, we don’t stand a chance of doing our best work as managers.

Context plays an essential role in optimizing the effectiveness of our management efforts in this area. The knowledge and insight we gain through Empathic Understanding brings context to the content of our interactions with our employees. Context gives us the back story to what the employee is doing and saying. We need the right context to know the full meaning and significance of employees’ actions, gestures, and words.

When we attempt to manage our employees without sufficient information and context, it leads to a lot of miscommunication, frustration, disappointment, and conflict with them. It usually causes a waste of energy and a loss of productivity in their work. This tension and stress can eventually lead to burn-out and disengagement for both them and us. This is also how we end up losing our passion and the vision of the difference we want to make for our organization and the people work with.

Empathic Understanding is a key part of the answer to how to manage our employees as individual Human Beings​. Empathic Understanding​ is how we can know our employees as individual people. It gives us access to the knowledge we need to manage our employees for who they are, not who we think they should be.

Looking beyond our expectations to see our employees as whole individuals doesn’t take anything away from the work we need them to do or the results we want them to deliver. It only changes​ how well informed we are about how to support and empower them. It provides us with the subtle details and context to know how to make the difference we want to make.

Share this on . . .Share on FacebookEmail this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+