Photoshop. Negotiating. Presenting. These are all things that can be taught on the job. But empathy? That is a sentiment that rarely gets discussed, with each member of staff at different experience and competency levels. Empathy is the act of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, understanding the reality and perspective of your peers. So, how do you step out from behind the desk and encourage empathy within your team? Find out some strategies you can try in your office, to promote a more empathetic and engaged team.
Team Building Activities
They are scattered throughout the year for many offices, and usually a lot of fun for the team. But have you ever stopped and wondered how well these team building activities impact your team? It’s a time for your team to mingle without the work lens’ on. They interact on a social and personal level and are able to share their similarities, compare their differences and even show a side of themselves that hasn’t been seen in the office. When deciding on your next team building activities, choose one that promotes teamwork, problem solving and trust. This will build invaluable empathy within your team dynamic.
One cannot help what happens outside of work, which means each member of your team can be on a different page at any given time. When they fail to recognise this in each other and limit their understanding you will find a team who don’t have an empathetic attitude. Sit your team down and have an open and frank discussion about workplace attitude, and decide on ways the team can co-exist and how everyone can commit to acting. It’s important that the team lead the discussion rather than management, and when the team has decided upon the key attitudes that are necessary from each member – put them in writing. Give each team member a copy of their commitment and check in with these attitude values throughout the year.
We have two ears and one mouth. But very rarely do we use them to that ratio. Making sure you foster an environment of open listening in the workplace will allow your team to open up to you and each other. Make time in your daily catch-ups and team meetings to discuss non-work related issues and items, remember that your staff spend more time at work that home so it is important that they feel comfortable enough to communicate there. A team that feels they have a voice and can be listened to will be a team that is empathetic to those around them.
Empowerment is a leadership competency that we should all feel and instill in others. An empowered team is an engaged team and this is what you will need to foster an environment of empathy. Empowerment can start with something as simple as having a team member lead a meeting that you normally would, it can be asking their opinion on something that is typically out of their scope. These acts of giving them a responsibility and power over a situation will increase their stake in the business. Who wants a team you are just punching in and out and waiting for the clock to hit 5pm? Invest in them and show them that they have a seat at the table.
Empathy is an incredibly important attitude and value. Your team enact this empathy in their personal lives, so with a bit of time and investment in their development, you can have them acting empathetically at work too.