Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Archive for October, 2011

Feedback is about perceptions and perceptions matter.

If you’re fortunate enough to receive genuine feedback from your manager, employees, colleagues, or customers, you’ll probably agree that seeking and/or receiving feedback can take us out of our comfort zone. Interestingly, although positive feedback offers validation and good feelings, less than positive feedback can be more beneficial, as it may cause us to explore a need for change or development.

Here’s the thing about feedback from others—What they’re really sharing is their experience with us. Based on what we think we know about ourselves, there may be times when we feel compelled to challenge their opinion of us. But we’re going to be hard-pressed to challenge their personal experience with us.

An individual’s or a group’s experience with us, also generates perceptions. And accurate or not, perceptions matter—big time. Perceptions can generate or stifle opportunities for growth, attract or repel new business, and help build, or break down, a reputation.

It’s important to remember that although perceptions can be inaccurate, they are often tied to some thread of truth. Our ability to willingly step up to the mirror to check out the reflection that others are seeing or experiencing, takes a great deal of courage. In addition, it sets the stage for development that can result in better relationships and more effective leadership.

Empathy and its impact on business.

With our plates so full at work, and with myriad responsibilities to deliver on technical and operational levels, we perhaps need to be reminded that our ability to be genuinely emphathetic has a significant impact on our, and our employees’, success.

If you’re leading—or collaborating with—others, the following points may be helpful as you consider the business case for demonstrating empathy in the workplace:
– Genuine empathy is easy to recognize—people know and feel when it’s offered, and they know and feel when it’s missing.
– Thoughtfully seeking and considering the feelings and emotional reactions of others will add to your ability to make sound business decisions.
– Leaders who have empathy have a deeper understanding of the cultural, generational, and ethnic differences that can enhance or divide a team.
– Being able to calmly listen to—versus judge—the feelings of others, provides an opportunity for leaders to understand how to best respond (which opens dialogue) versus react (which often stifles communication).
– Acknowledgment of your employees’ or customers’ expressed fears or apprehensions, opens the door for further discussion, and provides a better opportunity to respond to their true needs.
– A leader’s ability to genuinely demonstrate empathy, can have a powerful impact on employee morale and customer retention, both of which are crucial for organizational success.

For some, empathy is an innate ability. For others, it presents a development opportunity. Either way, empathy remains a crucial component of effective leadership and business success.