Building Empathy and Closing Doors for Empathy-Gap for a Successful Organization

Building Empathy and Closing Doors for Empathy-Gap for a Successful Organization

What is an organizational success?

It is when “We” all – be it the CEO or the whole hierarchy of people in the organization work towards the achievement of a common goal or target.

We all strive for success. Isn’t it?

In this race for success we tend to fall for the latest technological advancements, which is eventually very beneficial nowadays. One of the top agendas in the board-rooms today is to leave behind the traditional strategies and create a well engaging employee culture which leads to success.

On the contrary we sometimes seem to forget to build human relationships at the forefront to win battles.

Or maybe let me make it even simpler for you to understand – battles can be won sometimes simply by a smile or maybe a hand on the shoulder. J J

It simply means – “I AM THERE FOR YOU

I am talking about the empathetic way of dealing things.

The Empathy becoming one of the key ingredients for Success and what if it is missing from our organizational cultures = Empathy-Gap

Today when we look at the statistics, maximum of the employees leave their jobs because they aren’t happy with their bosses/superiors/management. Have you guys ever thought why does that happen? And the so called exodus of HiPo’s can be controlled thereby not losing on the businesses we do.

In nutshell if the empathy factor is considered then maybe we can work on this in a better way?

What is an empathy? How does it impact the modern day workforce?

An empathy is the ability to recognize the other’s feelings, gestures, pains, trauma’s and needs. When we are unable to mirror out these things it becomes the “Empathy-Gap”.

Let’s dive more into understand the empathy gap.

The empathy gap is the difficulty to understand each other’s perceptions, line of thoughts.

 For example – The expectation of an entrepreneur from his employees round the clock is total devotion for his business’s success, whereas he is most of the times unable to understand the need of the employee – he is in his own halo effect. The difference in the expectation of both the parties leads to Empathy Gap.

Today’s leaders are looking forward to solve this empathy gap for better functional organizations. It’s again a concept of Must-have instead of nice-to-have. Getting out of the traditional strategies and stretching boundaries to “walk the talk” – is the new leadership style for an empathetic culture to be flourishing.

A tweet on the twitter was flowing up and down among the HR people which said –

“Can we talk about this whole dynamic of employers assuming folks can only be effective/productive if they’re sitting at a desk in an office 8 hours/day? Some folks are more productive outside of the office or at diff times of day. Butts in seats =/= productivity.”

What is the above giving you an indication – A very non empathetic culture = Empathy Gap is being discussed or questioned? Irony and Sad to see this. It’s all over the same in the world.

An Empathy-Gap can be disastrous and lead to distrust, instability, and conflicting environment in an organization ultimately leading to losing on targets.
There are different types of Empathy-Gap
  1. Hot-cold Gap = It occurs when someone (X) is eager to do something and the other person (Y) is not interested. X is in hot state and Y cold state.

Example:

    • Your boss (X) wants you (Y) to finish a task within a timeline (day-end), whereas you would like to finish it with ease.
    • You (X) have done a research terrific according to you and your boss (Y) feels it irrelevant.
    • You (X) want a hike in your salary and your boss (Y) thinks you haven’t done enough for the increment.
  1. It can be a vice-versa = Cold-Hot Gap.

Example:

    • You (Y) want to leave early for home and your boss (X) requires the report that day end itself.
    • You (Y) are hesitant for an idea of any campaign and your boss (X) insists on the same.

The below based Empathy Gaps are more because of the behavior and thoughts of people in and around them.

  1. Interpersonal Gapit happens when people try to take others thoughts to apply on a particular situation.

Example:

    • When a floor manager expects a reaction of his team on a policy based on his previous teams reaction. 
  1. Intrapersonal GapIt happens when a person behaves or responds based on his own thoughts and behavior.

Example:

    • When Your shift is changed by your team lead and you don’t want to do it just thinking you won’t be able to manage (as you have never been to that shift)
    • When two colleagues or persons in an organization differ in thoughts based on their own beliefs. 
  1. Retrospective GapIt happens when you start comparing your past actions and behaviors and try to act accordingly. You create a bubble of the past actions in your current situation. 
  1. Prospective GapThis that situation when a person try’s to judge how things would happen in the future and creates gap among people or group based on such beliefs.

 And many more examples can be put forward for the gaps to be identified.

These different types of empathetic gaps happens in different forms in the corporate scenarios and as an HR professional or a Leader we should be able to identify them and nullify it effects in the course of time.

It’s the leadership style which we should follow to fill the gaps and act sensibly to avoid clashes, instability and moreover smooth running of the business.

It is the most effective way of leading, rather in this modern day it has become a necessary Business Skill.

Empathy gap is that unhygienic fat in your system if not worked upon at the right time can ruin your whole system. We need to build the empathy muscles which would make the organization stronger day by day. Come out of the shells and look at the world with a better perspective – where empathy can be learned as a trait.

Empathy should not be mistaken as a nice behavior towards anyone rather it should an understanding vibe and finding out solutions together.

Try to be flexible enough to ask yourself –
  • Why did it happen?
  • Why did he/she misbehaved?
  • What is it bothering the other team member?

Etc etc.. these questions would pave path for solutions rather having bitter thoughts.

 Empathy Gap can be filled as empathy can always be learned, try the following ways:
  1. Show trust & respect for your fellow employees
  2. Take care of your employees
  3. Give Security – can be in form of emotional security or social security
  4. Don’t be in hurry to jump to conclusions
  5. Ask questions – be curious to understand the situation as explained above,
  6. Point out your own biases
  7. Come out of the shells or biases, listen to others points also – Be a Listener too,
  8. Ask for feedback or suggestions
  9. Conduct cross functional trainings in your team – like role plays to understand the empathy gaps.
  10. Walk in others shoes to understand the gap and help the leaders to find ways

Always remember why an employee is working in your organization and what is making him to go against the norms. If you can answer these questions you have learned to practice it.

In nutshell Empathy would fosters the following things in the organization:
  1. Trust & Security – Its gives the employees to open their thoughts clearly and gives them the confidence their voices will be heard. If there are difference of opinions no one would back fire them rather there would be people to hold him on his shortfalls.
  2. Diversity & Inclusion – This could give a platform for diverse people to put forward their thoughts and give a feeling of inclusion to all.
  3. Well Bonded Workplace – the above points would a well bonded workplace to work in where everyone would think about others.
  4. Healthy and Mindful Employees – There won’t be any unhealthy competition, backbiting’s, bawling about one another. A happy place of work.
  5. Reduced Conflicts – reduced disagreements or rather disagreements on a positive mode, with no hard feelings and only one motive of achievement of target or success towards a definite goal.
  6. Highly Productive Workforce – No bad stress and hence leading to highly motivated and productive workplace.

As leaders and HR professionals we should always try to identify the emotions different people exhibit and be aware of the hidden lines in it. More engaged we are towards our manpower, more we would feel the empathy and more value is generated. Learn as managers and leaders to pay attention, be empathetic and help your organization to grow.

“Close doors to Empathy Gap and Open Windows, Doors and whatsoever for Empathy”–

Be an Empathetic Workplace – Lead your Organization towards Success.

 Happy Reading and post your suggestions for the article above.

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2 Responses

  1. Vatan choudhary says:

    Well said.

  2. Sunil Chadha says:

    Well said Shravanti, as always a nice easy to read & learn from piece. exhaustive & well orchestrated – could only come from someone who has mastered her own empathetic behavior. Well done – keep teaching us.

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