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Tad bit of Empathy to weather COVID-19

As leaders are trying to put a method to this mayhem, empathy and compassion are becoming the need of the hour writes Urvee Juneja.

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COVID-19 has thrown everyone’s routine out of whack. Organisations are running the risk of rapid decline in productivity as employees, especially women, are working double or even triple shifts at home. They are trying to manage their work schedules and home chores along with home-schooling and childcare. As leaders are trying to put a method to this mayhem, empathy and compassion are becoming the need of the hour. Empathy helps a person build a connection with another person and relate to that person’s feelings, situation and state of mind.

People can feel stressed and anxious as they manage conflicts between work demands and family responsibilities. It can be quite a mission to manage all the tasks simultaneously or even back to back with no intervals. In these trying moments, managers need to understand their employees’ holistic situation. They should consider that employees, especially women get a reasonable timeframe to complete work assignments, given the challenges at home. To keep morale high, organisations and leaders should empathize with how employees are adapting to the “new normal” and help resolve any challenges along the way. When employees believe that their management cares about them, they tend to be far more productive and loyal.

This reminds me of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella whose leadership mantra is all about empathy. It was one of the biggest lessons he learnt when his son Zain was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. According to Satya, when you show empathy towards your employees, you can connect with them better. This is when employees feel motivated and perform their best and organisations make progress. Satya has been able to successfully seed this culture of empathy across Microsoft. Leadership with empathy has been one of the biggest drivers that has helped Microsoft triple its market capitalization since Satya took the helm. And guess what – as yet another gesture, the organisation has recently announced 12-weeks of paid parental leave for its employees to deal with the pandemic crisis.

When I look back at my life, I realise it is often these small gestures that make all the difference. It’s not that hard. Just try these small yet powerful ways with your team during lockdown times - check on your team and their family’s wellbeing, check if they are managing to get essentials in place, check if the team needs any changes to weekly touchpoints to avoid conflicts with home-schooling or childcare routine. You will notice it does wonders to workplace morale. It will create a change – some seen, some unseen.

So, let’s do our tad bit of EMPATHY to raise more successful organisations and leaders. It is the propeller that will help us get through these tough times with resilience.


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empathy work from home COVID-19 leadership

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