Everyone I know has had a bad boss, maybe even a terrible one. I'm always intrigued to learn about negative experiences so I can learn and teach how to avoid them. Whenever I have dug in the core of the complaints frequently end in one thing: a lack of the empathy. I have heard things like "I complained about my workload and my boss told me I should work harder", "My boss called me constantly when I had outpatient surgery" and "I'm constantly assigned last minute work travel without regard for my calendar and personal life." When we unpack these complaints and other similar ones, the larger issue is a lack of empathy.
There are three reasons why leading with empathy is crucial to your success as a manager:
1. Deepens interpersonal connections. When you seek to understand someone, you are learning about them: their thought pattern, logic, emotional reaction, and more. This will help with communications, coaching and ultimately the relationship you have a personal human level.
2. Builds trust. By demonstrating that you are hearing your employee and understanding their experience as they relate it to you, they will have more trust and confidence in their conversations with you.
3. Builds a positive culture and improves employee experience. One in three people report that they would transition to a new company if it were more empathetic. I can person vouch - I have left jobs because of unempathetic managers.
We'd love to hear stories about managers who have shown incredible empathy (though the horror stories can be entertaining once you're not in them). If five people share a story below I'll post a story of my most empathetic manager, and if ten people comment I'll share a story about my least empathetic manager.