Your Organisation’s Secret Weapon: Empathy
There’s one thing in business that is often under-leveraged, if not completely forgotten or omitted by management teams that fail to see the value of empathy. This is a disaster, especially considering just how easy - and essential it is - to put yourself in someone else’s shoes when it comes to identifying areas that need improvement in your organisation, as well as offering up areas that could be consolidated.
Before we get into that, let’s take a look at exactly what constitutes empathy in the context of your organisation’s operations. Empathy, in a simplistic definition is the ability to see the world from someone else’s perspective; in the context of business, that could be a customer, a staff member or even a competitor. The minute you take a step back, and look at the world through a different lens, you eliminate any chance of prejudice or preconceived notions spoiling the objectivity of your gaze; this is when you can make some of the most impactful changes to your organisation.
Regardless of exactly where in the organisation an employee works, be it in the marketing, sales, accounting or operations teams, they’ll be more effective at their role if they take an empathetic approach to doing business. As you’ll find out, there’s a raft of benefits in store when you deploy the tool of empathy in your organisation, so let’s take a look at a few of the biggest changes you’re likely to see.
One of the most obvious benefits of being more empathetic in the context of business is that you’ll see both increased customer satisfaction, as well as increased sales through their referrals and positive feedback of your organisation. The moment your team takes an empathetic approach, and begins to realise that customer feedback is absolutely invaluable in terms of getting an understanding of how well your organisation is serving the needs of customers. With an empathetic view, you can better understand their needs and fears, as well as what they truly value - and what truly upsets the customer - in their transaction with your organisation.
Highly effective people working in sales have known how to leverage this for decades now, as it’s an essential skill and can help a client feel as though they’re being listened to, with changes implemented to better serve the customer. If your organisation is perceived from the outside by customers and competitors alike, you’re likely to see an increase in sales and referrals from well-served customers that value your empathetic approach.
If you look at it in the context of your competitors, you can get an understanding of where their priorities sit, and what they’re paying most attention to as they serve the market. This can then inform your organisation as to areas you should be refocusing or consolidating your attention to ensure your customers are well-served, or you continue to separate from the pack in terms of your unique selling point that attracts new customers, and retain existing ones.
Staff Morale & Productivity
So far, we’ve been talking about the external benefits of leveraging empathy in business, but there’s also the profound change to your organisation’s culture in store. Research shows that empathetic employers are more likely to retain their staff for a longer period of time, and get better results from them while they’re working for your organisation. It’s not difficult to see why. If you’re a small part of a large organisation that often doesn’t get a chance to air your frustrations, you’re more likely to see your efforts in vain, and lose motivation rapidly when compared to an employee of an organisation whose management team is empathetic to their staff members.
If your organisation can be more empathetic to its staff members, you’re likely to see their productivity rise with their morale as the two are inextricably linked.
Pragmatically, you’re set to benefit from the speed in which your organisation can respond to small problems before it becomes a large, all-encompassing crisis. I often think of it as an opportunity to get invaluable feedback from the ‘boots on the ground’, if you will, which is essential in shaping the direction and purpose of the organisation- as the market is never standing still.
In spite of what many management teams think to be true, an empathetic approach to doing business can also spur profoundly organisation-changing innovations. As I mentioned in the last point, your boots on the ground are often the most telling and accurate source of information, and can be more powerful than data-filled spreadsheets in terms of informing your management team on the necessary changes to operate in the future. Now that you’ve given both your staff and your customers your full attention, you’ve got the opportunity to get their honest feedback about what can be improved in your organisation, which often leads to important innovations inside the organisation.
Perhaps taking an empathetic approach to your customers has led to an increased amount of customer feedback for you to digest, and you’ve noticed a recurring theme surrounding your billing model. If your management team takes these concerns seriously - and it should - you can now begin to innovate how you serve those customers in a way that doesn’t make them feel violated in the transaction.
This is the first part in a series of content surrounding the lesser-known tools to increase productivity and profitability in your organisation, so keep checking our blog for regular updates to our how to content, business advice, ISO-in-practice content as well as industry news.
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