No one “forgets” their cancer diagnosis, their sick mother, their midterm exams, their custody battle, their abusive relationship. And yet, one of the most frequently uttered phrases in call centers is to instruct reps to “leave their home burdens at home, they won’t help you serve our customers.”
I get it, but I refuse to say it. The truth is, I don’t believe life works that way. Asking employees to “forget” that they’re a human being with burdens and fears does not help them to be more productive.
Sure, no one calls into a call center to hear someone else’s troubles, and we certainly don’t want suffering translating to bad moods and nasty service. But real connection between leaders and employees (burdens and all) creates richer relationships and yes, better productivity.
I don’t know anyone who’s successfully shoved their burdens down indefinitely and showed up brilliant, energized, and ready to connect full-on.
What If You Could See Their Burdens?
“Be kind, everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”~Plato
(maybe… see other options)
My sister, a Speech Pathologist and Director of Rehab in a hospital, uses this short video to reinforce empathy with staff, Empathy, The Human Connection to Patient Care. Anyone who’s ever walked down a hospital hallway with their burdens can relate.
The truth is, this story exists across every organization, in every hallway and in every meeting. If your team members wore their burdens on their sleeves what would they say?
- What’s the cost of not knowing your team members burdens?
- How can you understand your employees, without understanding what weighs most heavy in their hearts?
- What opportunities do you have for a bit more connection and kindness?
Team members may push their concerns down for a minute, but human beings need connection. Sure there’s HR and great Employee Assistance Programs (EAP),” those are necessary, but not sufficient. I’m not suggesting creating co-dependency or assuming parenting roles, just a bit deeper level of listening, empathy, and connected-solutions.
The best opportunity for real connection starts at the team leader level. Begin with connection and understanding, then bring in reinforcements as needed.