If you're seeking assistance, advice and tips on how to keep your employees motivated, this book will surely provide the solutions through empathy based management.
Every small business owner relishes the day they hire their first employee, but retaining employees is another matter. Positive engagement plays a central role, but maintaining engagement day in and day out has to display a degree of concern for others if the engagement is to be sincere and sustaining.
The book How Do I Keep My Employees Motivated? The Practice of Empathy-Based Management by George Langelett, PhD works to outline what is needed for successful engagement. In a word, that need is empathy. For organizations, it’s a few words – empathy based management – the practice of using empathy to understand employee needs and improve morale when faced with a crisis.
I discovered the book via NetGalley because I wanted to read the newest interpretation on a personality trait that in my opinion can lead to behavior that makes or breaks relationships.
How to Care – Before Earning Market Share
Langelett notes in the opening pages a poor common assumption about empathy in the workplace. Empathy is often dismissed in business, because it is “all about emotions rather than the use of logic.”
Langelett advocates that empathy leads to better ethics management of business crisis and challenges. Moreover, empathy can heighten personal awareness for instances in which perceived awards and punishments to employees can damage morale. According to Langelett, we all have the capability to learn empathy, complete with an innate capacity to draw upon it.
He quotes a study by researchers Ciaramicoli and Ketchem to support the view:
“…for our own survival we have the ability to interpret the behavior of other people. However, for every human behavior and display of emotions, there are an infinite number of possible causes for a person’s mood and disposition. Thus, even though observational empathy is a trait instinctually present within our nature, without practice, a person is unlikely to move beyond observing and interpreting behavior. By contrast, the goal of empathy based management is not only to understand a person’s behavior, but also to comprehend their perspective and causes for the behavior.”
The first chapter goes on to define empathy, with the second outline defining empathy based management through the goals it is meant to achieve. Chapter 3 explains how to empathize without canned behavior. It does so through the concept of intersubjectivity – when an employer and employee experience the same event and share a similar emotion.
The Right Size Book to Avoid Getting Lost in the Terminology
What’s nice about the book is that Langelett does not get lost in psychological terms in explaining his points. Langelett is a PhD who’s had experience with human resource issues, but enhances his experience through providing supporting evidence.
Like most interesting business books, the supporting evidence displays savvy perspective in worldly ways. For example, I liked the chapter one explanation of the brain and how certain portions alarm us regarding our emotions. The responses limit how we achieve solutions by focusing on reward and punishment:
“The unintended problem is that when the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine are released in our brain, our cerebrum focuses all of our cognitive energy on the source of the stress, namely achieving the reward, and this narrows the focus of overall thinking taking place in the brain. Therefore the unintended problem is that with a narrow focus, by design our cerebrum, we sacrifice our ability to think creatively and problem solve.”
The book is short – 181 pages – and that’s including a set of appendix of resources and worksheets at the end. They make the chapter highlights applicable without issuing a set of steps that can consume a lot time in a busy organization.
Who Would Benefit Most From This Book?
This book is a fit for almost any organizational structure. While Motivated does not require organizational processes like that within a financial management book, it does succeed at balancing the steps required against the resources the reader has at hand. While the subject is understandably personal, the brevity of the material makes the book balanced in how it helps a small business owner as much as it does a corporate manager.
If you are a business owner who has read a book like It’s Their Job But It’s Your Career, you’ll gain a natural follow up with this one. The book can also assist readers of team collaboration or project management books, such as Lean UX, which I have reviewed recently.
Empathy is important in life – from avoiding deep personal conflicts to achieving a win-win for all business parties involved. Read this book to see how you or your management team can better understand themselves, other people, and the world around them.