Mudassir Iqbal

Empathy is referred to the experience and the ability to understand the viewpoints and emotions of other people. It is beyond sympathy because not only you are being sympathetic but understanding the situation as well. Being empathetic is no longer a soft skill. While it sounds very simple and easy, it’s one of the most challenging things to learn. Instead of simply wondering, you need to understand how I would feel in this situation. When understanding what the other person is going through, you might not be able to set certain limits or a visible boundary. Think outside the box and cultivate a true sense of awareness.

Throughout my career journey, I have always encouraged my project management students to be good listeners. To better understand your team members, it’s important to listen. Let them speak their heart out and understand their problems with an open mind. Your team will be more likely to feel respected when they can give their input or put forward any concerns. In addition to listening to their words, pay attention to their body language as well. At times, non-verbal expressions can tell a lot. Focus on their gestures or facial expressions for improved understanding.

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Service Orientation for Organizational Success

Being an empathetic project manager, understand the significance of the project before you proceed. In the very beginning, take a deep look at the project objectives and goals. Similar to your project team, the project itself needs to feel valued. Your team is required to buy the thought why this project is meaningful. When you emotionally consider these facts & figures, you will be able to make informed and meaningful choices to implement.

Likewise, during the project, you need to be equally empathetic and keep on discussing its importance with your team who is working on it. Foundation might not be required immediately, instead focus the team’s spirit so they feel energetic throughout the project lifecycle. Certain project phases can be unexpected and you never know what challenges you may experience. It can be a major change from a stakeholder or budget runs out and more. Yet, you need to ensure the project’s empathy remains consistent even in the darkest times.

Grow Your Team 

Being a project manager, you should understand that empathy matters a lot. While task-oriented abilities such as project planning and monitoring emphasize the statistics and in making productive numbers, your caring behavior can help others to grow and feel motivated. When giving time and attention to your team, they in turn are more likely to improve performance and come up with productive outcomes. You can use certain empathy measures like Benchmark assessment for effective feedback mechanisms and organizational success.

Encourage Diversity

Keep in mind that workplace diversity can make your business productive & profitable. The benefits of leveraging diversity are numerous. Well, here I have listed the top 3.

  • When people from different experiences sit together to resolve a conflict or problem, you can expect better problem-solving. It’s a great way to bring out in-depth insights on the problem and creatively think for solutions. The more ideas you will get, the sooner you will be able to effectively handle the challenge.
  • There is always a likelihood of high productivity when people from diverse cultures, backgrounds, and experiences work together to achieve the inspiring goal. The more your team members mirror their demographics, the better they will be able to accomplish project excellence.
  • Encouraging workplace diversity can have a great impact on employee relations. They will feel more valued and will want to function at the best of their competencies. Project managers embracing diversity achieve high loyalty from their teams.

What about Political Awareness?

Political awareness is an important element of emotional intelligence (EI) and more specifically the empathy. As a project manager, you will need to deal with different stakeholders. Every stakeholder may come with varied objectives, preferences, and agendas. At times, they may have ulterior motives that they may not share. Further talking about it, it can be corporate politics as well. It’s a complicated network or you may consider it a natural part of the routine.

When we talk about office politics, you may consider it someone having an ego or arguing problem. Well, people who silently prosper in their careers can be political as well. They simply do better than others. It’s not a chart flow instead what is being done has the power of decision-making. These are the key players on which other people are dependent and seek guidance. It’s important to understand organizational politics for your career advancement as well. At the end of the day, you need to empower yourself and do well.

Wrapping Up

If you have read this far, you are more likely to have some insights and knowledge about empathy and how it can contribute to your career. It’s important to connect, listen and show consideration for your team members and gain a better understanding. It’s all about getting into the shoes of other people and be considerate. In addition to verbal conversation, try to keep an eye on the gestures and facial expressions as well. Being empathetic can make a difference! 

#EmotionalIntelligence #ProjectManagement

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Further Readings

  1. Project Management | Top 8 Must-Have Social Skills
  2. Important Motivational Elements for Project Success
  3. Empathy: The Winning Skill in Project Management
  4. Project Management: Self-Learning Journey
  5. Self-Regulation: Foundation of Emotional Intelligence

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