Article (March-2021)


A powerful tool

Anil Kaushik

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After Covid, all of a sudden the need of empathy in the workplace is much talked in business world. It reaffirms the assumption that empathy has often been missing from workplace since long. This is, perhaps, because the way businesses are done and management theories are propounded, it concluded into the profit or money making as sole and prime objective leaving behind the people importance in contributing to the same. The mindset of buying service for money converted the people in to mere resource emphasizing money as the sole motivator. This has persuaded all to accept different behaviours at workplace. Business does not warrant inhumanness. Hiring people for service and paying them in exchange does not mean that people are to be treated as soulless resource.

Now the thought process is changed. It is established that money is not the only sole motivator for people at work to achieve meaningful objectives. Many research studies have indicated that people prefer for agile, autonomy, vibrant, trustworthy and purposeful work culture to stay and deliver. To achieve all this, empathy plays a key role. It is not a fixed trait.  It is a skill that enables leaders to know more about their people, understand them better  and collaborate with them more successfully .Most of the managers and leaders are ill equipped to develop this skill  and unfortunately it is overlooked as performance indicator. Now managers cannot afford to be away from this skill. It is time for the managers and leaders to be more people focused.
Empathy neutralizes negativity. It imbues you with a softer approach to conflicts. It gives you control over challenging work situations. It is a powerful tool that opens gridlock helping conflict resolution. It has powerful impact on individual performance, job satisfaction, motivation and overall productivity. Research studies have found that managers who practice empathetic leadership towards their subordinates are proved as better performers. Empathy is threefold- Think, Feel and Go. Develop the ability to understand what others think, share their feeling and then take possible steps to reduce the plight. It builds culture of compassion and understanding.

Mangers should not be mistaken that adopting empathetic attitude at workplace means endorsing poor job performance of agreeing to other's point of view in all situations rather it helps responding on work issues with less prejudices, animosity and more maturity, fairness and objectivity. The challenge for managers is that empathy is learned, developed and practiced at individual level. Neither it trickles down from top management nor comes from rule book. It requires individual to understand their people closely. A compassionate workplace which is the need of time requires a conscious, organization- wide effort. In this whole process, setting limits is crucial to a more compassionate environment because being empathetic, sometimes it may be more draining emotionally and mentally  as it needs investing more time at personal level thus putting your own personal life in to stress.

This edition’s cover story experts talk about nuances  of  empathy, its importance at workplace, how leaders should learn, develop and practice this skill and overall present insightful guide. 

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