Why empathy is so important in outsourcing projects
Empathy is a short word indeed, but the feelings and emotions it generates is certainly vast, by making a person think from the other person’s point of view. With the business world shortening to SMSs, whatsapp messages, emails and cryptic phone calls, it is important for outsourced employees to have some kind of relationship with their employers. As they do not always have one-to-one with their bosses, and sometime never, if the outsourced agency is located in another country, empathy is important so the HR manager or the “boss” can relate to his employees. Expressed in plain English, empathy is putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. Though empathy was present to some degree in various fields, it is now becoming more prominent in the management area as well.
Benefits of practicing empathy at workplace
With the importance of empathy established here, you must have understood by now that empathy is very important in workplace and it is a critical factor while outsourcing projects. Now, here are the benefits of becoming empathetic to your employees
- You will be able to understand them at work and help them if they encounter problems
- There is no need to meet with your employees, just interacting with them through emails and messages would prompt them to be more open about their work with you
- Becoming empathetic to your employees would also encourage you to be good with other relationships as well
People will begin to treat and respect you like you do them
- As you have better understanding of the emotions of the people around you, they will be able to perform in a better way
- Even if there are any unspoken words in your conversation with the employer/any person, you would be able to understand them
- You would have no more interpersonal conflict at work
- When you see negativity in others, you would find it easier to handle it and even find a solution to the problem
- You would be calm during tense situations
Studies on empathy
Actually, it is not easy to be empathetic to others; it is a function of displaying cognitive maturity and involves cognitive complexity as well. Daniel Goleman in his book Emotional Intelligence points out that empathy and an interest in expressing this emotion in business must come from the ‘emotional intelligence concept’ with a strong link to ‘social awareness’. According Goleman, the extent of empathy does not extend to just understanding other people’s feelings and emotions, it also means one must use that emotional intelligence and social awareness to build interpersonal relationships. In an earlier article, we discussed about the importance of good interpersonal skills and empathy when outsourcing projects; this further proves the connection between empathy and interpersonal skills. Studies have also pointed out that empathy is also related to effective problem solving and through that excellent leadership. As people from different social and cultural groups are involved in an outsourcing project, social competences become very critical, stressing once again the importance of empathy.
Empathy is a determinant to success because it is one important trait that you must have when you rise in the organizational hierarchy of a company; it is a fundamental people skill. Though empathy cannot be bought or forcefully developed, it can be enhanced through training and fine tuning. If a person can read and handle his own emotions, then it would be easier for him to be empathetic to others. Company executives must be trained to develop empathy as it stems from social awareness, social skill and effective communication. As mentioned earlier, the outsourced employee almost never sees his employee other than through different social media channels, so a person who is skilful at empathizing would be respected as a good boss and he would find his projects completed earlier than planned.
Importance of empathy in an outsourcing business
- Empathy is becoming increasing important in the management field
- Social skills can be developed through empathy
- Improve interpersonal skills and thus increase productivity
- Empathy is important to intercultural relationships
- Empathy is in-born, but can be fine tuned through training
- It is a function of cognitive maturity
- With the help of empathy, you can gain great emotional understanding
Practicing empathy in workplace
All said and done, it is not easy to become an empathetic person one fine day, especially if you have teams spread across the world and you are chasing deadlines. The feeling of empathy can be developed slowly. For that you have to be a good listener as well. So develop your listening skills and if a person is saying something you did not expect to hear, then hold back before confronting or retorting. Consider the experiences of the person and think why a person just said what he said. Don’t formulate a response too quickly just because you saw it fit. That is not going to get you anywhere but late submissions, delayed projects and extended deadlines, and eventually, back to square one – finding a good outsourcing agency to hand over your task.
Getting a third person perspective would also help. As an involved individual, you may not be experienced (with empathy) enough to take fair decisions. If possible, try it with a real third person and discuss the matter, it may be a family member or a co-worker, probably the latter, and listen to his/her views.
Not many people really practice empathy, but it is always worth it to give it a try. It would improve your relationship with your co-workers, employees and others.
Pictures: Flickr.com/ Sharon Sinclair/ Sean MacEntee/ TEDxTrondheim
The author: Reema Oamkumar is engaged as a thought leader at Software-Developer-India.com which is a part of the YUHIRO Group. YUHIRO is a German-Indian enterprise which provides programmers to IT companies, agencies and IT departments.