Success Through Empathy & Empowerment

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Breaking down the numbers behind a happy, motivated staff that will produce amazing results not because they’re expected to, because they’re empowered to- all through the power of empathy.

I was having a conversation not too long ago with Gary Vaynerchuck, who was driving home the importance of empathy in all aspects of an organisation- regardless of their size, operations or staff numbers. One of the highest-ranking members in the Vayner media hierarchy is the chief heart officer by the name of Claude Silver, whom, at one point of time was suffering from the same lack of passion with her previous role that we’re talking about today. “That voice came up load, which was, ‘you don’t really care about marketing. You only care about these people,” she’s said an interview. “I knew I needed to put the brakes on and follow my bliss and follow my purpose, which is to really unlock people and be of service… so I left.”

Gary, shocked by her potential departure from Vayner Media made a counteroffer, to appoint her as the company’s first-ever ‘chief heart officer’, stating that her role was to “touch every single human being and infuse the agency with empathy.” In the face of finite time and resources, this might seem excessive, even unobtainable. However, you don’t have to have appoint a high-salaried specialist in your organisation to be responsible for this role - although, it is preferable - you just need to be aware of their teachings, and the vital correlation between empathy and a highly productive workforce that can, in turn, provide profitable results for the organisation.

Before we get our hands dirty, let’s take a look at the numbers. According to data from Proactive Insights, organisations that have a motivated, happy and supported workplace have 59% more creative ideas, a 51% lower turnover of their staff. What’s more, they have a reported productivity level 43% higher than an organisation with sub-par culture, 12% higher customer satisfaction ratings and 57% less sick leave time away from work. There’s two final statistics I’d like to draw your eyes to which are extremely telling, and something that every manager, CEO, small business owner or aspiring entrepreneur could only dream of… organisations with a happy workforce reduce their down-time by 35% which could quite easily be seen as the catalyst for the final number: a 200% increase to net annual profits.

Claude Silver told an interviewer that her “perception was that HR was on the defense all the time, and they were protecting the company rather than protecting and working for employees. I come from a long line of working in restaurants and bars in my earlier years, so I believe in hospitality quite a bit, and I believe in being of service. We are here to really guide and serve the population here.” Silver is speaking of one of the obligations that a highly-effective manager, executive or CEO should keep at the forefront of their mind as they conduct business. The traditional paradigm, being that employees are there to serve their manager and the business is somewhat true, but you can get vastly more impressive results if you flip the hierarchy and get your managers and executive team to believe that first and foremost, they are there to serve their employees. I’m a firm believer that great managers put themselves at the bottom of the hierarchy, rather than the top.

“They have a life before they come into work,” she said, adding that “they have a life after. I’m interested in knowing how they’re managing their energy. I’m interested in making sure that they know we have to access to meditation, to a wellness room here, to whatever it is they need… we look at the whole person.” An important part of this is establishing a mission statement and business plan that not only your customers, it acts as an important doctrine inside your organisation to motivate your staff; if they’re not buying into the principles of the business 100%, they’re likely not going to last long.

Some of the most fundamental groundwork in this context comes down to a few simple concepts: are you fostering a sense of belonging inside your organisation? How vibrant, welcoming, productive and empathetic is your company’s culture? Are you making an effort to encourage - and invest in - both the professional and personal development of your staff? Too often I’ve seen managers make superficial and simplistic attempts at improving their company’s culture; this isn’t a one-off thing, it’s a consistent promise to your staff that the organisation remains just as committed to them as they are to the organisation. Those that argue the contrary are more than likely guilty of leading an authoritarian organisaiton that more often than not result in high-turnover- not in profit, but staff members. It’s an innate human desire to be appreciated in our personal and professional lives, and while the world of business can be frantic and time-consuming, if you don’t take some time out to check-in with your staff members, you’re setting them up for using your organisation as a platform to move right on to another one.

As is plain to be seen in the numbers I was citing earlier in this piece, there’s a massive amount of potential benefits in store for your organisation when you take this more seriously. Some organisations are, and have been, quicker to pick up on it than others, while some still aren’t believers of this 21st century means of improving the business’ performance through empowering its staff. There’s always laggards when it comes to adopting a new piece of technology or a new way of operating- I just hope that you’ll be ahead of the curve with this one, as the results are immense.

As always, thanks for your time, and I’ll see you in the next piece.

Kobi Simmat.

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