Organizational empathy leads to improved results. A culture of empathy occurs when everyone seeks a deep understanding of others as a regular part of their role in the organization. Sharing the emotions of external and internal customers creates deeper understanding, and results in positive actions. Strong evidence shows that organizational empathy is a necessary ingredient for outperforming the competition.
To generate organizational empathy:
Create a positive culture.
A clearly articulated mission is the foundation for a positive culture. This includes stating the social good your organization delivers and outlining a clear connection for each person to that mission.
Make it safe to share feelings.
Establish that feedback, whether positive or negative, and sharing of feelings is acceptable. Admit your mistakes and what corrective actions have been taken. Discuss how much better it made your feel.
Create a customer culture.
Identify those who receive and use outputs from individuals’ efforts to demonstrate that everyone is a customer and serves customers. This leads to an appreciation of how others are affected and greater commitment to empathic involvement.
Develop and coach people in an empathy building process.
- Meet with your customers to learn about positive and negative experiences, asking the question “How does that make you feel?”
- Listen to their voice tone and watch their body language.
- Imagine yourself in their shoes with their pressures and constraints.
- Feel your emotions. Express them to show your deeper understanding.
- Create change to elicit positive and eliminate negative feelings.
Lead by example.
- Demonstrate to your internal customers that you know you are imperfect and welcome their feedback.
- Use this process with people throughout the organization.
- Set goals and take strong positive actions to replicate positive and correct negative experiences.
- Meet again to confirm perceptions.
- After sharing with your internal customers, coach them to do the same. This will spread the process throughout your organization.
Create ways for external customers to share their feelings.
Provide opportunities for external customers to meet face-to-face with the correct individuals, so they can describe their experiences, share their feelings and create empathy. This may mean moving beyond social media. Ensure the experience creates a positive difference.
Building empathy results in happier employees, lower turnover, better performance, greater customer loyalty and increased referrals. It leads to outperforming the competition.