Most people probably have a clear delineation between different teams they have been a part of but may need help understanding what those differences are. On paper, two teams could be identical, but certain qualities define a high-performing team where members feel connected to their work and their peers, making the team stand out positively from another.
Empathy plays a vital role in having a positive impact on a team. Exhibiting empathy allows for other points of view to be heard, improves the team's capacity for connection, and helps the team effectively communicate with one another.
Leading teams with empathy is essential in building trust and connection between peers. Approaching problems without considering other perspectives or experiences can create tunnel vision. This cycle can cause issues not only in the project at hand but also in losing the trust of your team. A team is there for a reason and should be utilized for their strengths and understanding their weaknesses to help lift them up.
Empathy is the perfect tool for building powerhouse teams that, even in the presence of opposition, can work together to find a solution. Practicing empathy pushes for space within teams to connect and work together towards the same goal. By leaving room for team members to communicate their ideas, they can contribute to the project by utilizing their strengths.
In the workplace, empathy can lay the foundation for high-performing teams. It will be more likely for teams to work together within their own department and with others to find solutions to problems. Empathy allows for a genuine connection between peers and shifts conversations of forced small talk to more authentic engagement through active listening and thoughtful questioning.
There will also be an increase in productivity because many internal blockers can be remediated quickly through effective communication. This connection between the team opens the door for a broader world perspective, helping to improve cultural awareness and boosting innovative thinking. When leading with empathy, teams will naturally perform higher than teams that do not make the space or time for people to connect.
At Savas Labs, one of our core values is to empathize. We practice compassion to understand another’s circumstances. This thread runs through our work with clients, their projects, and our internal team. We practice transparent communication, internally and externally, that allows us to connect and stay connected. It’s a frequent occurrence to see a few huddles happening over Slack because our team isn’t afraid to pick up the phone (metaphorical phone) and reach out to each other. It’s through this collaboration with each other that our #props channel is regularly updated. By recognizing each other’s strengths and contributions, we have created a culture of sharing that allows us to show up authentically.
Empathy is a soft skill, but it is totally learnable!
As they say, practice makes perfect, and the more questions asked will demonstrate authentic curiosity. Making communication more personal, like opting to huddle instead of a direct message, can help build a bridge between people. Expanding curiosity beyond simple acknowledgment by asking questions shows active engagement in the discussion and allows for different perspectives to enter the chat. Practicing empathy is what makes a high-performing team stand out against the rest.