Author: Holly Noon, SHRM-CP
If your thinking about going into management or are a manager it’s important to utilize empathy in your daily interactions with others. As a former Corporate Claims Manager, I engaged with employees regularly who were either injured on the job or involved in an auto accident in a company vehicle that results in me opening a claim with our insurance carrier. I coordinated with employees from various departments and this involved asking people “How they feel” or “What can I do to assist them”. Among the many interactions I had daily, employees consistently told me how they appreciated me checking in on them. It bothered them when their own manager didn’t check in on them. Practicing empathy in the workplace needs to be more of a priority among leaders because it creates a positive work environment where employees feel supported and cared about.
Further, empathy is learned on an individual level so it’s important we take the responsibility to learn how to listen to our co-workers or employees to connect with them. Now, I’m not saying we need to be best friends or be all in someone’s business but having the ability to at least understand someone else’s thoughts and feelings can help with promoting a work environment that allows employee engagement and retention to flourish.
When I attended the SHRM conference in Vegas in June 2019, the CEO of SHRM mentioned how a good portion of people spend a third of their life at work. The amount of time that employees dedicate to the workplace has value so it’s important as leaders in an organization we strive to make it known that our employees matter and are cared about on a personal level.
When I worked for various insurance carriers I really had to work on empathy daily dealing with upset customers, stressed co-workers, and insistent agents. During my years working in insurance as a manager and frontline employee, I picked up many tips on empathy, but these three recommendations helped me.
Three Recommendations for Practicing Empathy:
- Rethink how you Listen- Ensure you are being an active listener by being engaged and truly present to find a solution.
- Master the Art of Asking Questions- Ask thoughtful questions to show your investment in the conversation and repeat back your understanding of the conversation, so all parties are on the same page.
- Keep an Open Mind- Approach situations with an open mind and don’t make assumptions as workplace stress comes in all shapes and sizes.
“When you show deep empathy toward others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That’s when you can get more creative in solving problems.” – Stephen Covey