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.

Pass It On – The Art of Love is Good Business

 

Pass it on - Love is Good Business

Pass it on – The Art of Love is Good Business

Part of our mission at The Art of Love is Good Business blog is to share the stories of others who have found that Love is truly Good Business.

Here is one such story from Alim Thompson.

 

LOVE IS NOT A COMMON TOPIC IN BUSINESS – IT NEEDS TO BE

  • Published on September 20, 2016

Alim Thompson

Business and Leadership Mentor, Visionary Entrepreneur, Global Networker, Former CEO

I have always loved what I do, and it has been a powerful force for my success. My love for what I do is so strong that I could not contain it even if I wanted to – and I don’t. That’s not to say it’s always fun and games and a bed of roses. But challenges are much easier to face, if you love what you’re doing.

I also choose to work with people I can love. I’m not talking about touchy, feely, but people I look forward to seeing and being with every day. Again, challenges are much easier to face if you love the people you’re facing them with. If you don’t love your spouse, your home life is hell. Same for your work life. You’re spending a good chunk of your life with your workmates. I have passed up many talented people for people with perhaps less talent, maybe not quite as smart, but people who would be a fit with me. This is how I have created loving, caring cultures, and have had people who have consistently gone above and beyond to fulfill the objectives at hand.

Many leaders don’t believe this is practical for routine, drone work. My first business was wholesaling which was mostly a warehouse operation. People loved working the routine warehouse jobs because they felt respected and cared for. They contributed many great, efficiency improving ideas. Turnover was very low for such work. Loving them was much more effective and efficient than lording over them with threats.

“All you need is love

All you need is love

All you need is love, love

Love is all you need” (Beatles)

 

We hope you found Alim’s article inspirational. Feel free to share with others. We did.

Remember, together we can make a difference that matters.

Love: The Missing Piece in Management

 

Love: The Missing Piece in Management

The Missing Piece – Love

We recently ran across this interesting article in the Harvard Business Review on W. Edwards Deming (1900-1993), a business management icon from the latter part of the 20th century. The article, written by Joshua Macht, is The Management Thinker We Should Never Have Forgotten.

Macht wonders: Why do Deming’s ideas seem to be lost in time? Why didn’t they catch on to a greater extent?

Even though the underlying philosophy of Deming’s management method certainly resonates with our Human Centered way of doing business, we believe his ideas missed an important component. Love. Love, a deep and abiding Compassion for workers as Human Beings, is the missing piece we believe kept his method from being fully realized. Deming himself would likely agree with our premise about the importance of caring for the worker. But we think he didn’t put enough emphasis on it. So we thought we would do that here.

If we take Deming’s ideas and drop in the concept, Love Your People, the path to greater business success really lights up. It fits very well with the rest of his ideas. Dare we suggest adding it as the 15th point, to Deming’s ‘Fourteen Points of Management? (Click link: Deming’s Fourteen Points of Management.)

Not to put words in Deming’s mouth, but if the shoe fits. . .

Why do we suggest this? First, by using the power of Love in interactions, we make it safe, possible and worth it for our workers to bring the full measure of their discretionary effort to work with them, as well as their passion for work well done, commitment to the success of the organization, and greater collaboration with team mates in taking care of our customers’ needs. These are a vital part of the Human Assets Deming intended to harness and put to work.

And second, it just makes life at work a lot more fun. When we care about others and others care about us, it reduces stress, and makes work much more pleasant and rewarding. All of which optimizes productivity. And works to achieve what Deming’s method aimed at accomplishing. Of course, this names only a few of the benefits of incorporating Love into the frame work of Deming’s Management Method.

Check out the article. https://hbr.org/2016/06/the-management-thinker-we-should-never-have-forgotten.

When you finish reading Macht’s insightful article, remember to write a comment or share a short story about how Love, the missing piece, created a better way to do business.

Together we can make a difference that truly matters.

Congratulations to the Winners

 

Essay Contest Announcement of Winners

And the winners are:

1st – The Best Medicine by Megan Gregor

2nd – Un-rapped by Rich Lagomarsino

3rd – Working Happy by Kathy Quatraro

Honorable Mention – The Hospital Experience by Sheela Jaywant

 

All of the judges were impressed by the quality of entries. Thank you to everyone who entered and shared their stories.

 

Together we can make a difference that matters.

Love is Great Customer Service

Great Customer Service

Employees serve up Love is Good Business

 

Here’s an interesting statistic:

Americans tell an average of 9 people about good experiences, and tell 16 people about poor experiences, according to an American Express survey in 2011.

So, we at ALGB want to buck the trend and tell you about a great customer service. Because this experience gives a real time example of what The Art of Love is Good Business looks like.

I wrote a letter to Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks. This is part of it:

Hello, Mr. Schultz.

 I wanted to tell you about an excellent experience I had at Starbucks in Boulder City, Nevada on September 28th.

 Even though my previous experiences with Starbuck’s Coffee had been disappointing because I couldn’t seem to get the kind of coffee I wanted, I decided to brave the Starbuck’s system once again. Your actions as CEO were a big reason for me to try again—you really seem to care about improving the lives of everyone your company touches. If I had not been aware of this, I’m not sure I would have pursued the kind of conversation I had with the associate who greeted me that morning.

 I approached the counter and explained to your associate that I needed help with ordering a coffee because I didn’t understand Starbuck’s menu. So, I just described what I was looking for: a weak coffee that’s sweet and creamy, with a touch of chocolate. Could she help me?

 She paused and thought for a moment, then enlisted the aid of the associate who prepares the coffee (do you call them baristas?). Between the two of them they came up with a coffee that fulfilled my wishes. And the barista wrote it down for me so I could order it next time.

 Now that’s a great customer experience. . .

 If the associates had not cared about helping me have what I wanted, the experience would have been very different, and maybe, more typical of a lot of customer/business interactions. I am grateful that my interaction with Starbucks was a kind and compassionate one.

 I trust you won’t mind if we expand a little on my Starbuck’s experience in one of our future blog posts. It was certainly for me, an example of the role Love can play in business success.

 I applaud your leadership and the people of your company.

 Thank you!

 Michelle R. DeLaBarre, Editor

The Art of Love is Good Business Blog

So, what went on in this encounter?

As a customer, I was aware that CEO Howard Schultz wants his associates to care about the customer’s experience. It seemed to me that I would be safe expressing my need; that I wouldn’t be a “bother” to the Starbucks’ associates, so I was brave enough to go “off the script” of a typical coffee ordering process.

And, sure enough, the associates were very responsive. They took my needs into account, and, ultimately, adjusted their actions to make my experience very satisfying.

I believe they also had a good experience too because they were given the opportunity to help, and were able to successfully apply their knowledge to create a happy customer in a real time situation.

We all parted ways smiling!

What great customer experiences have you had where The Art of Love is Good Business was at play?

 

Share your story so together we can make a difference that matters.

 

 

Power Up Business with Love

Power Up Business with Love

Power Up!

 

 

At the heart of our ALGB message is:

 Love is a practical tool for living a more wholesome and effective Life at work.

There is energy in Love that powers an array of Human attributes: courage, insight, physical and mental stamina, and empathy, to name only a few. With Love we can do things we can’t otherwise do. And that makes Love a practical and useful thing; not just a whimsical over idealized notion about how we wish Life would be.

But, how do we bring Love into our world of business?

Choice. Attitude. Intention.

We choose to care about the well-being of ourselves and others, and even about the well-being of the places we work in, and the work we do.

Once we choose to care about well-being, an attitude of Love forms. Now we put the attitude into action and guide our actions with our intention for well-being.

We intend to support the well-being of ourselves and others, and everything in our businesses.

The steps flow, and suddenly it seems easier to see, feel, and use Courage, Insight, Stamina, and Empathy.

And these Human attributes bring great results into our workplaces.

A real-time story:

A manufacturer had a rule. Orders needed to be shipped within 10 days. But a lot of things got in the way of meeting that deadline. And as the deadline kept being missed, the increased anxiety and fear levels made all of the delays grow exponentially.

As the manager observed the fallout from the missed deadlines, he became more and more concerned about the well-being of his staff, customers, and the organization as a whole.

He chose to care. He brought a Loving attitude, and because he intended to improve the well-being of all, he had the Courage to ask: What is a more realistic shipment schedule?

And from that courageous and insightful question, they built a better shipping process.

The employees felt less stress and the customers were happy. Together they had powered up their business with Love. That’s a win-win in any playbook.

And illustrates our closing thought:

Together we can make a difference that matters.

 

 


Balance Work and Life with Love

Work Life Balance

Balancing our lives–its easier with Love

Work Life Balance. This phrase seems archaic now with the steady blurring of the line between Work and everything else that is Life. But thinking about this imaginary line gives us the chance to look at how we do spend our time, and how we can spend it more successfully.

From our point of view, an attitude of Love always supports the best use of our time. When we can look at our work, our life, and our comrades with an attitude of Love our time is naturally spent acting in more wholesome ways, leading to greater success for everyone.

This article Work-Life Balance: Learning to Like and Live with Chocolate Milk by the guys at Fresh Milk from Contented Cows suggests some ways we can achieve these greater successes. And their suggestions are always well-grounded in an attitude of Love for ourselves and others.

For example, Bill touches on the value of “Me-Time”, and its increasing importance in an economy where everyone is taking fewer days off. We can help each other by addressing some of the downsides of taking “Me-Time”. What if we helped our vacationing associates by delegating or sharing their work so they don’t step into a back-log they feel they’ll never be rid of? Would this end up being a successful use of our time, as well as our associates’ time?

Read the article and catch some more ideas.

Together we can make a difference that matters.

 

Love is Good Business for Every Business

Love is Good Business for Every Business

Love is Good Business is for Every Business in our World

Every business is about people relating to each other.

The Art of Love is Good Business is true for every business we work in, from the mega-corporation to the mom and pop corner store.

We were happy to see an article recently that shows that very point.

Here’s a quote from Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz.

“We’re not in a coffee business serving people. We’re in a people business serving coffee.”

This simple twist on how we think about our businesses helps build the framework we use to relate with our customers, vendors, co-workers, and each other; and, is a big part of what we hope we are sharing here.

To see this coming from the CEO of a large corporation is encouraging.

Read the entire article here:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/howard-schultz-giving-college-educations-his-employees-daniel-roth

Together we CAN make a difference that truly matters.

Using the Power of Love to Change Business

On Being a Compassionate Irritant

Speak up!

Speak up!

 

The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice, it is conformity.
- Rollo May

 

One of the most important points we want to make in this blog is that Love is a Utility, a source of Power, to help support business and Human success.

We recently found ourselves talking about how being too agreeable, being too willing to go with the flow, can hinder positive growth and success. And, so, we wanted to share our thoughts about how being a Compassionate Irritant can help people be catalysts for positive change.

In some ways, it seems a paradox, this idea about being a Compassionate Irritant. When we are talking about the Art of Love is Good Business it might appear that we’re talking about rainbows and unicorns–fanciful and unrealistic stuff. That could be interpreted as “Peace at any Price”, or don’t be an irritant, or don’t irritate people.

Actually, Love is what enables us to be a very special kind of irritant. A Compassionate Irritant. Love brings an energy of caring enough about our work, and our fellow Human Beings, to power greater courage to be authentic and express our opinions and ideas.

Expressing ourselves as a Compassionate Irritant could start with something as simple as saying:

I could serve customers better if I had this. What do you think?

I don’t understand why we do things this way. Can you help me understand?

I have an idea. Can we talk about it?

And if that didn’t get anywhere, would we give up? Nope. We would continue to be a Compassionate Irritant. Because compassionately bringing up issues, ideas, and solutions, are the first step on the path to making things better in our world.

By initiating collaborative conversations from our place of Love we can Power positive growth and success for ourselves and the organizations we work with.

We encourage you to be a Compassionate Irritant.

Share a story or comment about your experiences with being a Compassionate Irritant.

Together we can make a difference that matters.


Working with Difficult People is Possible with Love

Love is key to working with difficult people

Difficult people can be the key to success.

 

When we find useful content, we like to pass it on to our readers.

This article The One Technique to Get What You Want From Difficult People by Kate Matsudaira is worth sharing.

Kate encourages us to see what’s really behind difficult people and their behaviors by opening our perceptions to other possible motivations. Difficult people really are trying to help even when they contradict or disagree with us.

Her technique changes challenging meetings into collaborative and creative conversations. By bringing our Love to these conversations, we encourage “difficult people” to do the same.

Check out the article: The One Technique to Get What You Want From Difficult People
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