Too often we see people and ask the question, “How are you?” without really stopping to listen to the response.
You must learn to ask the question, “How are you?” and not only listen for what people say, but also watch for how they say it and the non-verbal cues of their real feelings.
Follow along and learn how to show care and empathy to employees so that they are more likely to believe the genuineness of your expressed recognition and appreciation.
Showing empathy improves your relationship with your employees. Empathy is the ability to step into another person’s shoes with the goal to understand how they feel and appreciate their perspective.
Once you understand how your employees feel and think about a situation in their lives, you are better prepared to know what to do and how to act towards them.
Ultimately, your actions should mirror the praise and appreciation you express to employees.
Finding Out How To Care
When you find out an employee has health, family or workplace concerns show your empathy by asking clarifying questions.
Use open-ended questions that help them feel comfortable revealing more about themselves, like:
“How are you really doing?”
“What criteria will you need to make a decision?”
If a person is still leery or untrusting to answer you, simply express your genuine concern for them:
“I just want you to know I am concerned about you.”
“If I can ever be of any help to you or you would just like to talk about things, please let me know.”
Showing employees support is part of demonstrating empathy.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
Try to remember a time when you felt overloaded at work and you received support from others to complete the task. What did your coworkers do for you that showed you they really cared? Or maybe they didn’t and so you were disappointed.
Each situation differs slightly, but the support shown by others adds to the sense of community in the workplace.
If you know an employee is not well or is overwhelmed with work demonstrate to them that you care and perhaps have others rally to support them.
You can demonstrate your care and empathy for an employee through a variety of acts of kindness, like:
- Dropping off a favorite treat or drink at their work area
- Pitching in to help lighten the load when they are overwhelmed with work
- Finding a special note card and writing words to uplift and express concern for them
- Arranging meals delivered to the home by work colleagues when they are sick
Showing care and concern for employees in the workplace serves as a great starting point, but there is another step to take.
Respect Before Caring and Recognition
Demonstrating genuine care and concern for employees’ families while at the same time respecting privacy can allow for greater trust in your relationships.
However, when things are shared with you about family members, make sure to follow up with your staff by asking these types of questions.
“How did your daughter’s piano recital go on the weekend?”
“What’s happening with Robin’s physical therapy right now?”
“Did your husband manage to finish the deck over the weekend?”
Always respect an employee’s privacy and those who do not wish to share.
Now that you have seen a few examples of what you can ask, create a process for yourself to regularly find out what’s happening with your staff.
You might do some of the following:
- Simply walk around and stop to ask employees how their day is going.
- Request supervisors and peers be aware of needs and concerns of others and pass them along when they feel concerned. Remember to always respect privacy.
- Put people concerns ahead of tasks at staff meetings or team huddles.
- Request that employees send emails or message you right away when they identify a problem.
- Make quick phone calls or send email follow ups on conversations you had the week before.
Responding To Employee Concerns
When you receive concerns about employees, how should you respond?
First off, you should always show respect and sensitivity towards people’s needs.
Respond spontaneously when needed but communicate with the employee often.
Schedule one-on-one meetings with employees to determine the best support for them and the next steps to take. Encourage work peers to do their own acts of service for one another.
Effective leaders are more people-focused. Research indicates both having and demonstrating empathy is positively related to job performance.
The most effective leaders:
- Are more aware of work pressures and signs of overwork
- Assist employees willingly to help solve personal problems
- Demonstrate compassion in times of personal loss or serious illness
- Listen and show interest in an employees hopes, dreams and personal needs
Not only does giving time and attention to others foster empathy it enhances your performance and improves your perceived effectiveness in the eyes of employees.
It is important for authenticity to be demonstrated by acts of caring concern before any recognition will be perceived as meaningful and real.
Question: What has your organization done to ensure care and concern is demonstrated to meet employee needs?
Roy is no longer writing new content for this site (he has retired!), but you can subscribe to Engage2Excel’s blog as Engage2Excel will be taking Roy’s place writing about similar topics on employee recognition and retention, leadership and strategy.
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