Why empathy is a crucial part of effective coaching
It takes a lot to be a good coach. He or she is responsible for another person, whose progress is partly down to their guidance. There are several different ways in which managers can coach their mentees; some prefer the “tough love” approach, believing that being firm and objective is the way to get results. These qualities are helpful, but studies have identified that empathy is the trait most closely linked to success across an enterprise.
These are the four main reasons why empathy is so crucial in the workplace:
- It goes hand-in-hand with humility
An article from Harvard Business Review says that humility is one of the basic traits of an exemplary leader. It is what makes a leader instead of just a boss. The Huffington Post backs this up by saying that humility goes hand-in-hand with empathy to create a successful business leader. Managers who acknowledge they still have a lot of things to learn and are empathetic to colleagues build a more positive workplace.
- It supports teamwork
It’s vital to ask the team how they feel about their work. An Inc article states that employees often don’t speak up out of fear of looking stupid or challenging authority. Coaches should dispel that fear by asking about their work and for feedback. This can help improve teamwork.
An article in Smart Business Online shows that through empathy, team members learn to trust each other. Christian Schneeberger, Orbium Senior Manager and Country Manager in Sydney, Australia, backs this up, saying: “Empathy gives employees more confidence to work with the team and give their best.”
- It opens people’s minds
Empathy not only creates a positive atmosphere in the office; it also helps people in the team to think more broadly. A Time article says that the ability to see things from another’s point of view opens the mind and allows people to view situations from a fresh perspective.
For example, a single coding mistake made by a programmer shouldn’t define his or her career. By being empathetic to that person, the manager might find out that it happened because of extreme pressure or as a result of miscommunication with other programmers. Putting themself in his or her shoes will allow them to see that mistakes are inevitable from time to time.
- It helps both people move forward
A coach should listen and give feedback to their mentees. Listening helps them understand what needs to be improved and comments should be constructive. For example, asking someone what they need rather than questioning their knowledge is a far better way to increase productivity.
Learning to see things from another person’s point of view is not easy, especially in a corporate setting where objectivity is encouraged. However, empathy has been shown to create a workplace that is more conducive to constructive teamwork and personal development. Isabelle Roth, one of our managers based in Geneva, says: “Understanding each other allows everybody to show the best of themselves and creates a better overall result”.
This is what some of our other coaches said…
Nisha Daeppen, Senior Manager, Geneva. Currently coaches nine people at Orbium:
“Empathy means putting yourself in other people’s shoes and imagining how they feel. We are not machines; we are people.”
Patric Roth, Manager, Sydney. Currently coaches seven people at Orbium:
“A coach should know how to listen and show empathy to help the mentee perform in the interests of the client, his own interests and the interests of the company.”
Joann Yong, Senior HR Officer, Singapore. Currently coaches three people at Orbium:
“A coach should be a role model and should inspire his or her mentees to achieve their potential.”
The coaching model is one of Orbium’s greatest assets in terms of professional development. Every employee has a designated coach who is responsible for giving guidance and career development. Coaches regularly set aside time for their mentees to discuss any concerns, feedback and their career path. We aspire to help our employees reach their greatest potential.