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Better Manager, Better Employees

At this point, anyone who sees the words “better manager” will immediately think of someone easy going, laid back, and most importantly, possesses a level of emotional intelligence that shoots through the roof. The headline of most recent articles on leadership have to include terms like “emotional intelligence,” “high EQ,” and “empathy.” But somehow, no matter how many times mainstream media tries to get this idea into our heads, entrepreneurs around the world still can’t grasp the concept of an emotionally intelligent manager.

EQ isn’t about buying your employees a pool table or spreading out an indoor grass carpet to make work more “fun”—EQ is less about what you give in a material sense and more about what you can give from an emotional sense.

Redefining “The Good Manager.” Having empathy is only half the story

Most people get the idea that being a good manager is no different than being a preschool sports coach—being smiley and cheery all the time, and handing out “freebies” at the end of each practice session to encourage “team motivation.”

Oftentimes, we find it hard to understand what “empathy” looks like or what it means exactly because we see models of empathetic leadership without seeing the work that goes behind being one. Empathetic leadership is more than just “being there” for your employees: it’s essential skills like relationship-building, communication, managing difficult emotions, and people skills that will get you to where you want to be, which includes higher employee engagement, higher performance, better quality of service, and higher levels of productivity.

Your ability to lead and manage effectively—and empathetically—has a bigger impact on your employees’ performance than you think: Did you know that managers account for at least 70% variance in employee engagement scores? Your company’s retention rate practically hinges on your management skills (a.k.a people skills). What’s more is that, according to Gallup, employees often leave because of their managers, not the company itself.

Empathetic leadership is necessary. If only we knew how to do it the right way.

What it means to be a good manager

They really—I mean, really care—about their employees’ wellbeing

Showing your employees that you care about both their wellbeing and career growth is one step towards showing the empathetic side of you, and your employees will definitely appreciate it.

Checking in on them and touching base every once and while during performance reviews or even before the start of the meeting can make your employees feel heard and valued. Your employees will feel a sense of connection to your company and the work they’re doing when you put in the effort to make this a part of your leadership style. Here’s a video from Harvard Business Review that gives you practical ways to do this (even remotely).

Especially in the current state of the world, we all need someone to check in on us every now and then.

They know how and when to give feedback

Feedback is a crucial part of any workplace environment—it provides your employees insight into their current performance and it gives them an opportunity to grow both personally and professionally. But, as useful as it is, it can be difficult to both give and receive criticism.

Good managers know how to do this, and skillfully. They pick the right time and place to do this, and know how to give it to their employees straight. And not only that, but they also make sure they make offering and asking for feedback a part of their company culture.

They put the right people in the right roles

Empathy gives you the ability to understand and connect with the person in front of you without them even telling you, and knowing where the person fits within the company is part of it. Identifying talent is one thing, but knowing where to put that talent into good use is an entirely different matter.

Where you assign roles and even tasks should depend on your employee’s skill level, level of experience, their career goals, and even factors such as temperament. Good managers carefully assess which employee is better fit for a certain task, job, team, or project with the help of proper and accurate people analytics software.

And last but not least, they keep up at it

Being a good manager that possesses the empathetic leadership skills required to run a company effectively isn’t something that you’ll only see temporary benefit from—happier employees will not only be more productive and well-engaged, but even if they do leave, they’ll be leaving with a good impression of you and your company. A better reputation, means you’ll attract better talent, and that’s what all companies aspire to have.

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