How Empathy Helped Develop Myself into a Manager

When we think about what qualities make a great manager, these might be some of the first to come to mind: good communication skills, leadership, organizational skills, and expertise in the field.  While it might not be top of your list, empathy is one quality that should not be overlooked.  Empathy is the ability to experience and relate to the thoughts, emotions, and experiences of others.  It goes beyond sympathy and is what allows you to step into someone else’s shoes and become aware of their feelings and needs.  Empathy is a powerful quality and one that can develop good managers into great ones.

Why is empathy important in the workplace?

In the workplace, empathy can mean showing a sincere respect for employees and co-workers.  It lets them know that you view them as human beings, and not just as a commodity.  An empathetic manager can make everyone feel like they are part of a team which will increase morale, productivity, and loyalty to the company.  The most well-liked and well-respected leaders are those who demonstrate empathy in the workplace.

How does empathy impact a manager/employee relationship?

When we understand the needs of others, we are able to develop closer relationships with them.  In order for a team of workers and their manager to work powerfully together, strong relationships must be built and deepened.  Empathy is a powerful tool in building relationships, and it is through empathy that trust is built within the team.  When there is trust between the manager and their employees, good things will happen.

How can a manager demonstrate empathy?

Empathy requires three basic things: listening, openness, and understanding.  Empathetic people listen attentively to what you are saying and put their complete focus on the person who is speaking.  They spend more time listening than speaking because they genuinely want to understand the needs and feelings of the other person.  Great managers understand that productivity and success is only reached through positive relationships with people.  Therefore, they have an attitude of openness toward their team members and truly care about the feelings and emotions of each person.

How can empathy make you a better manager?

Empathy means putting others ahead of yourself.  Unfortunately, many companies are focused on achieving goals no matter what the cost to employees.  This creates a work environment where employees feel resentment and frustration toward their managers.  It has a negative impact on their morale and their overall performance.  In contrast, managers who demonstrate empathy are able to build trusting relationships with their employees.  By spending time learning about the needs of their employees, managers can take the right approach to help their employees reach their organizational goals.