When Satya Nadella became CEO of Microsoft in 2014 he recognised that….
“Teamwork was being replaced by internal politics. We were falling behind, While I admired every member of our team, I felt that we needed to deepen our understanding of one another—to delve into what really makes each of us tick—and to connect our personal philosophies to our jobs.”
He emphasized on knowing each other a little bit more, then only can empathy exist and he stated that ‘Empathy improves teamwork’ as the first in his 3 benefits of empathy in successful business. All three stated in a previous article yesterday You Need To Embrace Empathy To Excel At Your Workplace And In Life in which I covered this interview with Satya and said that I would discuss each point in a little more detail. So, here are my thoughts on this first point.
Who are we?…..
When people talk of organisations, they are made of people.
When people talk of families, they are made of people.
When people talk of groups, they are made up of people.
When people talk of teams, they too are made up of people.
People drive the world. They drive ideas and inventions. They drive both love and hate and they drive success and failure. Yet people, what makes you…the reader…you, and me…me, is very often overlooked.
Whether I am working with a hospital complaints teams, care home staff, clinical staff, leadership teams, or non-healthcare professionals, the beginning focus of the day is and should be who are we? In essence…getting to know you!
Who is that person sat next to you? Maybe the person you have worked with nearly every day for the past year. Or the person who you may have just met. So, the beginning of the day starts off with pairs of people exchanging a story about themselves that has had an impact on them, or something that has impacted on them in the last 7 days.
Almost without exception, about 70% will share something very personal and often about loss of some kind. Each time showing how much we often have going on in our own lives. They then will hear a story from me, a very personal, emotive narrative about the presence and absence of empathy. A story of loss, despair and hope. And within the first hour, we become a group of people, connected, by knowing something about each other that we didn’t an hour before.
And this in turn starts to build an important human connection between us. As Satya Nadella states, “we needed to deepen our understanding of one another—to delve into what really makes each of us tick”. So as we start to understand each other in the group, as colleagues in the workplace start to understand each other a little more, the opportunity is presented to build relationships and gain more cohesion in our work lives and personal lives. Using our empathy to support us in this.
But sometimes empathy gets a bad press about being bad for our health, and whilst I train in optimising our empathic abilities, I also would agree, yes it can,, if all we do is absorb ourselves in others emotions, without self-awareness and valuing our own well-being sufficiently at the same time. Something intrinsically connected to using empathy intelligently and well. When we look, however at how much damage happens to others in this world, by the lack of empathy, there is no doubt in my mind that it needs to exist.
As with many emotional reactions, understanding it and optimising it intelligently is key. Anyone who has been on a plane will be familiar with the advice over oxygen masks. Resist the temptation to assist and ‘rescue’ others until you have put your own oxygen mask on. It does not state, put your own oxygen mask on then simply ignore anyone else in need. More so, take care of yourself by taking responsibility for yourself, and then anyone less able to manage in this particular situation, support them. Be aware of them. Look, listen, see their perspective, and feel enough to respond.
So using our natural empathic abilities, along with our reasoning, intellect and sense of self is a skill set worth developing. Satya states that without empathy, something key is missing to drive forward a succesful business and work life.
Indeed, to not have room for empathy in work life and personal life, is to simply be putting on your oxygen mask and not looking around you at others. Not being interestes and having with an absence of wishing to understand. To me that equates in a more dangerous place to be, for our own well-being, professional and personal relationships and those we interact with. What Satya is proving through his success and is also recognised overwhelmingly in business research, is that empathy and getting to know others, is a key skill to have, develop and demonstrate. Without it, an organisation can be hollow and empty, small minded and detrimental to those working there.
So who are we? And getting to know people, as the first part of any training or workshop I do, is one of the most important and impactful part of the day.
Oh and a little cheesy music in the form of the wonderful Deborah Kerr singing from the King and I, gives us just the right start too! Go on….have a listen….you know you want to and…… get to know someone today!! 🙂
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