Updated: Sep 11, 2019
According to OC Tanner research, 79 percent of employees who quit their jobs claim that a lack of appreciation was a major reason for leaving. Add to that 65 percent of Americans claimed they weren’t even recognized one time last year.
Getting the right person hired is one thing. Helping her continue to be the right person who grows into your supernova is another - and this is where active listening and empathy become crucial.
I recently worked as, what I’ll call, an empathy performer for a major tech company (we’ll call them “MTC”) at their annual event in Las Vegas - more on that job in a moment. They brought in thousands of employees from around the world to get trained up on the latest and greatest in their field. I was there to assist on the HR front; this company wanted to help employees with difficult conversations at work - from what could be perceived as the relatively minor (e.g. “I’m frustrated that you keep canceling our face to face meetings”) to more difficult issues like sexual harassment, ageism, and sexism.
In all of these scenarios, employees were encouraged to heighten their awareness, not only about what they wanted in a situation where they had to address something like one of the above situations, but also how they would do it. It’s not enough to be logical if you wish to be heard. Regardless of how well-founded your reasoning is, the person on the other end of that conversation may well believe he is being reasonable, too - sometimes from a completely different perspective.
This is where we, the empathy performers, came in. Our job was to be the subordinate employee, peer or boss who wasn’t communicating well. The MTC employee, with a bit of awareness, a few tips under her belt and a specific scenario, would meet us in a breakout room. Then, in a 2-4 minute conversation, she would try to develop, at minimum, a bridge of understanding. Solving the problem was last on the list of goals. We’d follow the exercise up with feedback, sharing what we noticed in terms of key indicators like body language, tone and listening skills.
Interestingly, most MTC employees went straight for trying to solve the problem. It’s a very natural response in our society. So what’s wrong with it? Even if you do solve (or think you solve) the surface problem with your scenario/problem, if the person behind the problem doesn't feel heard, you’ve only put a Band-Aid on a deeper cut.
I hear some of you snickering. That sounds contrived, touchy-feely or lacking in result. However, based on the follow-up conversations we had, this training was incredibly impactful. Employee after employee thanked us, telling us how they much learned, how they would apply the training and that they enjoyed the process.
That last part - where they enjoyed the process - is key. No matter how good you think your solution is, if people won’t put it in play, it’s worthless. It's like what any good doctor will tell you: the best exercise is the one you actually do.
What most employers want from team members is relatively simple:
* Show up on time, prepared and follow directions.
* Bring energy, creativity and commitment to the job.
* Enjoy being there; let that be your brand and sales card to your team and the clients.
Again, those sounds simple, but if the employee is in it just for the paycheck, that list can look long, foreign, maybe even impossible.
So how do you get employees to buy in to your culture (which hopefully is a lot more than just inspirational words in the handbook or posters on the wall - though “Hang in there, baby” is likely to still garner a smile)?
Great culture begins with listening, teamwork and a “yes, and”, inclusive foundation. When people feel they are appreciated, recognized and cared about, they naturally give back to that which validated them.
This is what we do at ComedySportz. Sure the games are fun and the laughter is infectious; but it’s the teamwork, acknowledgment and empathy that brings people back - with a smile on their face and ready to face the day's challenges, time after time.
Contact Robert at ComedySportz to bring the same awesome team building, communication and empathy training we've already delivered to Google, Southwest Airlines, Harley Davidson and many more.