Empathy is something you either have or you don’t, right?
Empathy is something you can build into the culture of your organization.
Claude Silver, Chief Heart Officer at VaynerMedia, shares the secrets to building a culture of empathy in the workplace.
- Energy management
- The effects of large world events in the workplace
- Scaling empathy
What most people want in a professional or personal setting is to feel seen. Whether that be in their achievements or personality, feeling acknowledged and understood is a fundamental need of human beings.
For Claude, to ignore that call to be seen by her team was abhorrent. Even with over 900 team members, Claude finds time for each — an act largely unheard of from someone in her position; and, with a current retention rate of 80%, it’s clear that she’s making a difference.
How to make employees feel seen
Most of the time, we put on a front due to societal norms. But being inauthentic can build walls between you and others. Hiding your vulnerabilities from those you spend a large percentage of time with can be disruptive or devastating to building strong relationships.
For Claude, being her authentic self is a number one priority.
“You have to be acknowledging what is. If you don’t, you’re living in some kind of Fairyland, and no one is going to succeed.” — Claude Silver
Even with authenticity being a number one priority, how is it possible to be that way with over 900 team members?
Carve out the time you’ll take on one activity and then time for a break. It could be as simple as getting fresh air and coffee. Now, with how much time everyone is spending in front of a computer screen, it’s more important than ever to find time to tear yourself away.
The effects of large world events in the workplace
There’s a huge benefit of being open and vulnerable with people; however, an effect of this is dealing with the pain and suffering people endure every day.
Some of the events in recent times have magnified those anxieties: the death of George Floyd, Black Lives Matter, COVID-19, and the latest presidential race.
Claude deals with this by providing an open-door policy & professional mental health resource opportunities for team members. Even through the COVID-19 pandemic, she has provided zoom calls to keep those team relationships fresh.
“[A series of recent traumatic world events] shakes a person and the community to its core. And that brings up an enormous amount of anxiety.” — Claude Silver
Training future leaders
In tandem with making employees feel seen — they need to feel empowered. The best way to do this is to provide opportunities for growth.
Claude provides her team with multiple opportunities for improvement:
- An anonymous high-performance life coaching system
- At-scale learning and development curriculum
- Individualized department training
“We want to look at the whole person. And we want to develop the whole person. Why wouldn’t we?” Claude explains.
Empathy in the workplace is an absolute requirement; but, the process requires a tremendous amount of effort:
”To scale empathy: A. it needs to come from the top; B. you need to empower every single person to be part of the spreading and the scaling of empathy, of kindness, of compassion, of gratitude, of patience.” — Claude Silver
Being able to apply empathy in all situations gives the employee the best chance of de-escalating situations and staying the bigger person.
Benefit to empathy
With so much effort put into scaling empathy, what hard facts present a compelling case to put in the work?
- Creates an environment ready for innovation
- Employees feel a sense of ownership to the company
- All levels of employment are now responsible for the culture
- Gives younger employees a solid foundation
- Raises retention rates
A good reminder is that life isn’t just work. We have families, hobbies, passions, insecurities and more. To try and compartmentalize all that makes us human into the hours we’re not at work is no way to live. As we look into the future, try and take some of Claude’s message with you and apply it to your own life.
And if a thriving community of growth-oriented marketers sounds like your kind of place, be sure to check out PEAK Community.