Unless you’ve spent the past 3 years sequestered in a remote mountain village in Azerbaijan, you know we’re under more stress now than ever. We’re in a crunch for filling positions at all levels in our credit unions. We routinely hear how our members are getting upset with our staff – and we’re sometimes taking the brunt of it.
And now let’s pile the holidays on top of all our work stress! We think we need to be like a Normal Rockwell painting with picture-worthy food and well-behaved relatives. Not to mention the added tension in our departments with people jockeying for time off.
Let’s take a different perspective this year.
Start your conversations with a dollop of empathy and work toward a little-used element of this important skill – taking a different perspective. Empathy is the ability to both consider the perspective of another person and to respond accordingly. Working to take the other person’s point of view takes a lifetime to perfect.
Approaching challenges from a different perspective means slowing down, asking more questions, and listening to the other person’s ideas without an agenda or a goal toward solving the problem. And yes, even though we might be the boss, we don’t always have to solve the problem someone brings our way. Sometimes we just need to listen.
Imagining the problem or situation from your team member’s perspective can help you better envision their point of view. Even if you reach a different conclusion from them, you may have a better appreciation for their thought process, which can inform future discussions.
Considering your newer colleagues’ perspectives can pay big dividends in the short-term and the long-term. Do you remember what it was like to start a new job? Maybe even the day you started at the credit union?
Newer colleagues bring a fresh perspective regarding everything from our processes to the way our offices are laid out. It can be easy to go with the flow until someone comes in and questions what’s happening with fresh eyes. Taking the new employee’s perspective can help that person feel more valued and feel as if their opinions truly matter. The bonus is that once we start to empathize and listen differently to the perspective of our new team members, it’s easy to create a culture of empathy with all our staff.
Empathetic companies have better retention and higher morale among employees. This makes a lot of sense when you consider what today’s workers value. Good, high-performing individuals have lots of employment choices. Among other things, the gig economy and access to technology have created opportunities beyond traditional corporate work.
What skilled workers are demanding is a different kind of working experience: they want their voices – and their workplace requirements – to be heard. That’s good news for credit unions that are considering adding empathy as a key element of their company culture as they look toward future growth. Making small, subtle shifts toward improving empathy in the culture can make a big difference including:
- Gaining employees’ trust,
- Increasing employee retention and loyalty,
- Encouraging personal and professional growth, and
- Creating a work environment where employees feel safe and valued.
You need a team that is passionate about the ways in which they can make a difference in the lives of their members and their communities through empathy. CU Difference is passionate about helping your team recognize that working for your credit union is more than a job. Reach out to learn more about growing a culture based on empathy.