The Mindful Manager: Compassion in Action

The Mindful Manager: Compassion in Action

Compassion: sympatric pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortune of others

Action: a thing done; an act

Managers often ask these questions in regards to the care for their employees:

·      Is empathy helpful to an organization?

·      Are managers supposed to be concerned for the welfare of their employees?

·      Is compassion a management and leadership quality found in business?

These answers are found in scores of the best managers – for profit and non-profit organizations.  Their priority is attentiveness for people, and they have learned to coachthem to perform well. The well-being of employees often becomes blurred when a manager communicates unrealistic production quotas, impractical quality standards, and unachievable service expectations ahead of the needs and strengths of employees. Without genuine concern, employees can become isolated, discontent, and disengaged.

Gallup has surveyed millions of managers and employees. An important fact remains; people are more engaged at work when someone cares about them as a person and employee. It’s one of the 12 key questions for employees on the Q12 survey (by Gallup).

How does compassion in action work within an organization?

·      Employees are people with feelings, thoughts and behaviors who typically give their best for 8-10 hours a day. They have professional and personal needs (at times, merged together).

·      Most employees want to do the right thing

·      Employees are not perfect. They mess-up and hurt. Broken relationships can negatively influence their attitudes and actual performance. Life gets messy.

·      A perceptive manager will know when an employee’s life get messy and understands that this could detrimentally impact personal and professional ambitions.

·      A manager’s compassion offers care, encouragement, stability, and practical choice solutions with people when lives are in disarray. It’s “doing” in kindness, sympathy, and understanding.

Here are three illustrations of how compassion takes action through management:

1.    Daily Management Style: is more than dominating people with inflexible production schedules. Take a daily interest in your people, and they will, in turn, take an interest in you and pursue the goals set for the company.

A compassionate manager keeps the door open, is accessible and listens carefully to employee needs. Timely, and thoughtful suggestions might be a professional counseling program for drug, smoking, alcohol problems or life depression issues.  A compassionate manager will patiently pay attention, grieve with employees and explain the company bereavement program when there is a      family or friend loss – with time off flexibility. These may be offered through HR benefits.

I worked with a regional manager who literally gave his all to his team. He took a strong interest in his people and was available to help.  He cared deeply for their professional and personal needs. Whenever a crisis arose in their lives, he was present for support and encouragement. He was so well respected by his staff; they would do anything for him.

2.    Manager Alertness: be aware of special times in the employee’s circle of life. A compassionate manager will communicate care with thank you notes (even when the work is not perfect) sympathy cards for family and friends, and attend memorial services. Even a visit to the hospital could lend support for a hurting employee.  Provide time off (even when it’s out of policy) for difficult personal predicaments.

3.    Management Interviews: people have flaws and often management will write off a potential candidate when the candidate expresses a tough life issue (without resolution). A good interviewer will show concern for potential hires – and not draw quickly to judgment or be biased.

Managers, approach your day by observing the real time needs of your staff. Be willing to be interrupted. When you discuss sensitive issues, stay focused on the words and non-verbal ques.  Offer up possible solutions to their problems.  You do not have to be a professional counselor, or substitute family member, but you can offer a “rebuilding” environment. If you lack the strength of empathy (or even harmony): partner with another senior leader for help (who may have empathy) or an HR partner in your organization.

Compassion in Action to employees can encourage employee engagement. Management can help by:

·      Lending a listening ear (this may be what your employee needs without any words)

·      Better understand professional (and personal) needs and disappointments

·      Clearing a workable pathway (you have a better objective view) with solution options

·      Demonstrating fair and just treatment for employees

Excellence as a manager depends on devoted work with your employees. They will move mountains for a manager who genuinely serves the team and shows compassion.

A personal model of compassion entered our suffering world long ago. The child in the manger would grow and have a monumental healing impact on the spiritual, mental, and physical well-being of all people.  All genders, nationalities and life vocations.   I know excellent managers who have thrived in their role exhibiting Jesus Christ’s humble example of compassion in action.

Compassion can be an integrated quality of thought and action: practicing excellence as a manager. A manager is a people role (whether you like it or not). Your people deserve your listening ear, innovative mind and curative demeanor.  

Allow compassion to be an important part in the well-being and engagement needs of your staff.

Merry Christmas and Happy holidays everyone!