It is not uncommon for small business owners to receive coaching on how to prepare a conversation to convey empathy, compassion, and caring for their employees. Most of them already want success and achievement for their people, but there is often a disconnect between the care they have, and the actions required to convey that care to their employees.
Taking the time to discover and practice the following five tools can lead to greater efficiency, aid in expansion of business, and ease the burden of management.
Tool 1: Get Rid of Judgement
We exercise judgement every day on jobs, at home, and in our leisure. This decision-making type of judgement is helpful to us and can result in a better life or work environment. But if, as a leader, you find yourself building walls instead of making decisions, begin to think about how you can keep judgement related to the task and not the people completing the task. In practice as a leader, begin accepting responsibility for your part in mistakes made by your team. This could be that you relaxed your training standards or did not provide clear and accurate direction. Whatever the cause, accept that you may have played a part and admit to the mistake at the start of conversations about the topic.
Tool 2: Ask Good Questions
If asked appropriately, a good question will provide information and leave the person responding with the feeling that someone is listening to them. These questions should be open ended, requiring more than a yes or no response. They should also be asked in such a way that the true answer is unknown to the person asking. Think through the information that you want to know from those you work with and find out the who, what, when, where, why, and how of solving a problem.
Tool 3: Listen Actively
Active listening is paying attention to the details, taking notes if possible, and using all information to come to a conclusion. There is always more to observe during a conversation than just the words. Pauses for breath, the amount of eye contact, use of hands, and facial expressions can all play a part in assessing how information is being delivered and what you should do with it. If, for instance, a person is rushed in their delivery and consistently working toward an exit, they may be uncomfortable with the topic. Consider addressing concerning actions directly to find out their true cause.
Tool 4: Integrate New Ideas
Consider the information you are receiving from others. If their ideas are more right than yours or even if they are just a matter of opinion, allow space for these ideas to be a part of the knowledge in your organization. By doing this, you allow others to participate in what the company will become.
Tool 5: Put Yourself in their Shoes
This is truly empathy. By embracing this tool, you are not only understanding of how someone else may feel, but you are also able to experience how they may disagree with your information or point of view. A statement of, “I can see your point” or a question asking them to tell you more about an idea can lead to a deeper discovery. Understanding and seeking out how to become part of a person’s thinking will provide greater insights and help them become closer to the solutions in the company.
As a leader, practicing these five tools of empathy will begin to open doors. Employees will feel included and heard, leading to better outcomes for the initiatives you are planning to move the business forward. Implementing these ideas may do what you already intended—get your employees more involved so you have additional time to accomplish greater goals.