Empathy As A Management Skill

Empathy is all about the awareness of the feelings and emotions of other people. It is a key element of Emotional Intelligence, the link between self and others, because it is how we as individuals understand what others are experiencing as if we were feeling it ourselves.

Empathy is ‘feeling with’ that person, through the use of imagination and conscious awareness rather than just having some form of sympathy for the individual and their circumstances. This is a key management skill and will allow you to manage staff more skilfully.

Managers who use Empathy well are able to define, understand and react to the issues that create behaviour in people and to react positively to emotional responses and reactions.

Empathy is a skill that you can develop and refine through time and for many people, not all, have a natural tendency towards being empathetic in their dealings with others.

Empathy is made up of five components:

  1. Understanding Others

This area focuses on how you go about sensing others and their feelings and perspectives, and taking an active interest in their concerns. Those who do this can relate and tune into emotional cues. They listen well, and also pay attention to non-verbal communication, picking up subtle cues almost subconsciously. This includes the ability to show concern and understand others’ perspectives.

  1. Developing Others

Developing others means acting on their needs and concerns, and helping them to develop to their full potential. People with skills in this area usually are very comfortable with rewarding and praising people for their strengths and accomplishments, and always provide constructive feedback designed to focus on how to improve. This also includes providing targeted mentoring and coaching to help others to develop to their full potential.

  1. Focusing upon delivering against Objectives

Skilled managers know what the objectives and targets of the organisation are and both publicly state them and align the work if individuals and teams to them. This means putting the needs of customers first and looking for ways to improve their satisfaction and loyalty.

People who have this approach will ‘go the extra mile’ for customers. They will genuinely understand customers’ needs, and go out of their way to help meet them.

In this way, they can become a ‘trusted advisor’ to customers, developing a long-term relationship between customer and organisation. This can happen in any industry, and any situation.

  1. Harnessing the power of Diversity

Using the diversity of the workplace means being able to create and develop opportunities through different kinds of people, recognising and celebrating that we all bring something different to the table.

This does not mean that you treat everyone in exactly the same way, but that you tailor the way you interact with others to fit with their needs and feelings.

People with this skill respect and relate well to everyone, regardless of their background. As a general rule, they see diversity as an opportunity, understanding that diverse teams work much better than teams that are more homogeneous. This means challenging intolerance, bias and stereotyping to create an atmosphere that is respectful towards everyone.

  1. Political Awareness

Many people view ‘political’ skills as manipulative, but in its best sense, ‘political’ means sensing and responding to a group’s emotional undercurrents and power relationships.

Political awareness can help individuals to navigate organisational relationships effectively, allowing them to achieve where others may previously have failed.

Always work towards developing and refining your use of Empathy – being able to do this will make you a truly effective manager of people.

Good Luck!

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