Empathy is what puts the care into healthcare. Without it, patients become just a number, just a case, just a disease. The same goes for your staff. Without empathy, you risk your staff losing interest in their job and the organization. They’ll come to work (until they find another job) and go through the motions, completing tasks without thought, effort, or care. Feeling valued, appreciated, and seen are key components to being fully engaged at work – and they’re the key components to showing empathy.
What is Empathy?
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. If you feel you may be lacking, there’s good news. Empathy is a skill that can be developed and honed.
Scorecards measure outcomes like financial performance and patient satisfaction, but good scores aren’t possible without engaged employees.
How to Show Empathy as a Leader
So, how do you show empathy at work? It’s more than just expressing sadness or concern when an employee is going through a tough time. Here are just some of the practical ways to show you’re an empathetic leader:
- Acknowledge staff perspectives. Seek input on new policies, procedures, or systems. Look for ways to address concerns or coach through them.
- Support staff interests and skills. Look for ways to help advance careers and develop skills of interest. Employees that have special projects that interest them are much more likely to be engaged.
- Involve staff in decision-making when possible. Rather than just assign tasks or projects, seek volunteers. Ask for opinions about new procedures when possible. Your staff has a wealth of experience. Lean on it, and they’ll feel valued.
- Acknowledge feelings and provide comfort or solutions when possible and appropriate. If someone is going through a tough time, what can you do to help? Sometimes adjusting a schedule can ease the situation. Sometimes it’s as simple as providing a listening ear.
- Be transparent. If your team feels you’re not being forthright and honest, they’re far less likely to trust you.
- Ask how you can help. As the saying goes…” you won’t know unless you ask.”
- Check-in regularly. Be visible and ask how people are doing and what they need.
The bottom line: If you want your employees to feel engaged with their work, they need to feel valued and appreciated by their managers, peers, and the organization.
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