This is last part of my blog series about the book “Does Your Brand Care?” by Isabel Verstraete. As a quick reminder: the CARE principles stand for collaboration, agility, reliability and empathy.
In this article, I’ll zoom in on the last pillar: empathy. Please continue reading to discover more about it.
Empathy and why you should care
Empathy is a skill you can train or practice. It enables you to see the world as it is and not being judgemental about it. It helps you understand another person’s feelings and communicate your understanding of that person’s feelings respectfully and inclusively.
Being empathic lets you be open to change, embrace an adaptive mindset and show resilience. As we’ve seen before with the other three pillars, these three ingredients help you build a solid and long-term relationship with your customers, staff, partners and community. That makes your brand stronger and stand out from other suppliers.
How to be empathetic
There are many ways to be empathetic. Here are some tips from the book as well as myself:
- Take time to listen to your staff’s concerns. You could do this by planning a fixed weekly one-to-oned with each of them. Avoid to reschedule this 1-2-1 for other meetings, unless the building is really on fire. It may give the impression and feeling that the other meetings are more important.
- It’s best to communicate face-to-face and preferably even in person. We are all for fully-remote, however, we also have to admit that communication can be very challenging when not done in person, even if you’re using meeting tools like Zoom or likewise. The non-verbal part of communication is a very important element that helps us to better understand how the other person is feeling or what they want to express. Therefore, if you work fully-remote take the time to meet up a few times per year in person with each other.
- Don’t forget to give your staff compliments and recognition for their work and ideas, this fuels empathy. You could also do this durign the weekly one-to-ones where you discuss the current state, the desired growth path - personal and professional - and how this person is feeling today; how’s life going?
- Avoid by all means a blaming culture, pinpointing what went wrong. It’s better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission. Evaluate successes as well as failed experiments together. Set a safe environment that enables people to experiment without fud (fear, uncertainty and doubt) and where they do not feel the urge to hide their mistakes or failures.
- Don’t avoid discussing feelings or failed experiments in your team’s weekly or retrospectives. It helps to share experiences with others, and allows the group to see the full context and show empathy.
- Avoid full days of (digital) meetings and leave room for multiple breaks. It helps to keep a better focus and avoid frustrations and frictions due to being overstimulated and tired. You can use the Pomodoro technique for this.
- Schedule shorter appointments with clear agenda points, and roughly plan your schedule a week upfront. Don’t forget to leave room in your agenda to experiment and take on unforeseen opportunities (agility), as well as time for personal growth read books, watch TED talks, follow webinars, listen to podcasts. Motivate your staff to do the same and take time to experiment and grow personally.
- During the pandemic, most of us discovered the fun and impact of doing walking meetings. Physical movement fuels the mind with fresh air and new ideas.
- Allow flexible hours, let go of the 9-to-5 mentality. It gives more freedom and less stress. The same goes for the choice of working remote, hybrid or at the office, whatever works best for you or your staff. Don’t impose a culture in which only working at the office, late work or taking work home is the norm. It will help to avoid burn or bore outs.
- Talk to people outside of you personal and professional bubble. It helps to acknowledge your biases and move beyond your worldviews; look and think outside of the box. Listen to the youth; they often tell you the truth - even when it’s ugly. Some very recent example: the climate changes, black lives matter, and LGBTQ2+. Join forces to reach the higher cause together.
I hope you enjoyed this blog series about the book “Does your brand CARE” by Isabel Verstraete. My next article will focus on how to apply agility in brand management. Keep an eye on our website or subscribe to our RSS feed to get a notification once published.