All too often, aggression is mistaken for good leadership, when the truth is that it’s not ruling by fear or asserting dominance that changes businesses for the better, it’s being more compassionate and understanding.
A manager who thinks they just need to crack the whip to get employees to comply is mistaken. This only creates a toxic work environment. Ruling by fear will mean that employees won’t share their thoughts and ideas for fear of ridicule or making mistakes, and the business will suffer.
Being compassionate and understanding is not the same as being weak, it’s about understanding that failure happens, dips in performance happen, and life happens, and working with employees to solve whatever the problem is.
The benefits of being a compassionate and understanding manager
Failure is not fatal, to employees or the business
A compassionate and understanding manager doesn’t punish mistakes, instead, they see them as something that can be learned from. They ask ‘what can we do better next time? Employees will willingly contribute if they know that a mistake is not the end of the world. If employees are so afraid of making a mistake that they don’t put their ideas forward, this is a missed opportunity for innovation. Fear can also damage a team’s ability to bounce back from failure. If they’re working in a culture where failure is treated as being fatal, they’ll find it devastating when things go wrong.
It makes the workplace a better place to be
When employees know that a manager is approachable, fair, open, honest, and willing to work with them to overcome issues and help them grow, the workplace is a much better place to be. It builds trust, people feel valued, and they want to work hard for the business.
Where a manager doesn’t accept mistakes or listen to other people’s views, there’s an undercurrent of mistrust, resentment, and fear that can be very detrimental to the day to day running, and overall success of the business.
How to be a more understanding manager
If employees are fearful, resentful, or they don’t trust you, they won’t reach their full potential and neither will your business. Here’s how you can be a more understanding and compassionate manager.
- Try active listening. Listen to employees without thinking about your response while they’re speaking, and repeat back to them what they said to check and show understanding. Be open to questions and discussion, whether you agree or disagree with them.
- Acknowledge what they say by letting them know that you see where they’re coming from. This will make them see that their comments are valued and valid.
- Don’t focus on problems, focus on finding solutions by working together. Ask them ‘ how can we improve this process?’ or ‘how can we do better next time?’
- Always reward and celebrate successes, no matter how small. This will make people feel like what they’re doing matters, and if they feel like it matters, they’ll be more motivated to work hard.
An understanding manager knows that mistakes happen and personal issues happen, but they treat employees with fairness, compassion, and respect. They’re almost always rewarded with hard work, loyalty, better ideas, and a happier workplace.