“Listening is understanding. The skill of empathy is a must to be able to listen. One can listen better if one sees the whole.”
–Bill Drayton, social entrepreneur
Seeking to understand and listening with empathy make a huge impact on your leadership abilities. It allows you to put yourself in someone else's shoes; discover why someone feels a certain way; and leaves room for powerful insights so that you can become a more informed leader. Just ask Jignasha Grooms, Vice President and HR leader at Epicor Software. In Episode 16 of Think Deeply, Speak Simply—Listen with Empathy—Jignasha revealed that putting your employees at the core of your business’s mission statement is the key to unlocking a more inclusive, representative, and equitable space for all.
It adds value to all sectors of your business model—even in ways you might not expect! Here are Jignasha’s best practices for how you can become a more empathetic listener.
There’s no laundry list of things you should do to instantly become a more empathetic listener. Like all worthwhile things, it takes time, effort, and patience. Jignasha recommends starting small and simple with quarterly checkpoints for your employees. These check-ins offer an open forum where everyone can listen, ask questions, and learn. By spending just 30 minutes with each employee throughout the quarter, you can avoid misunderstandings, lack of information, and low team morale. This is a great opportunity for you to be present with your peers and show them that their opinions matter. This will also help you make more informed decisions that benefit everyone.
Lead by example
If you want high-performing employees, the first step is to be a high-performing manager. Hold yourself accountable and be vulnerable. Put aside your own personal biases and assumptions. Keep your mind and ears open. People always know when someone is talking at them instead of with them. This makes them feel disengaged and unheard. Rather than listening to respond and waiting to add your two cents to the conversation, take a moment to pause. Reframe your mindset and seek to understand why others think and feel the way they do, especially in times when they don’t personally align with your own.
Emphasize your employees
Empathetic leadership will influence your entire people strategy. When employees feel like they’re adding value, this naturally drives better business results for you, your customers, and your company culture. And remember—your employees reflect your customer base. When you prioritize empathy as a core value, you can better understand their day-to-day operational needs and become better partners.
In other words, you can’t have a great customer experience if you don’t have a strong employee experience. When you put your employees first, they reflect it forward to your customers—bringing you more business. Prioritizing empathetic listening will do wonders for your success as a business leader.