• 3/24/2014
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Empathy among corporate managers is in short supply, according to a survey of more than 600 employees by talent mobility consulting firm Lee Hecht Harrison. The survey found that 58% of managers fail to show the right level of understanding toward their employees.

Empathy Found Lacking in Most Managers

WOODCLIFF LAKE, NEW JERSEY, March 24, 2014 – Empathy among corporate managers is in short supply, according to a survey of more than 600 employees by talent mobility consulting firm Lee Hecht Harrison. The survey found that 58% of managers fail to show the right level of understanding toward their employees.

Lee Hecht Harrison surveyed 626 workers throughout the U.S. via an online poll asking, “How would you rate your manager’s ability to demonstrate empathy for employee situations?” The survey found:

Appropriately understanding       42% 
Rarely understanding    30% 
Not at all understanding    22% 
Behavior is overly intrusive    6% 
 

“Empathy isn’t a weakness, but fundamental to good management,” said Kristen Leverone, Senior Vice President for Lee Hecht Harrison’s Global Talent Development Practice. “It means being able to understand and relate to others’ feelings. After all, if a supervisor or manager can’t tune into the feelings of employees, it’s going to be very difficult to motivate or engage them. The survey seems to have struck a chord, and the findings should raise concerns for management.”

According to Leverone, developing empathy may pose a challenge for some leaders.  “Employees have diverse backgrounds and experiences that leaders may not share. If a leader isn’t listening or hearing, employees won’t be forthcoming or feel secure. So effective leaders must try to look beyond themselves and open up to other points of view.  Failing to do this has serious consequences and will undermine trust, collaboration and, ultimately, productivity.”

The key to empathy may be development of one’s emotional intelligence, believes Leverone. “Showing empathy and being authentic may require practice. Self-awareness is essential.  Leaders should be sure to take an interest in employees, listen closely and strive to understand their perspective.  Everyone wants to believe management cares about them as people.”