Derek Bishop


Engaging empathy

Date added: 13th Feb 2015
Category: Employee Engagement

Creating engagement by staying in tune with the mood of the business

Amid tales of tax havens and low inflation one story which has hit the headlines this week relates to the ability of dogs to recognise emotions.  Admittedly the research which gave rise to this conclusion was somewhat restricted, with dogs being taught to respond to pictures of frowns or smiles by receiving rewards for correct responses, but the conclusion drawn by researchers was of little surprise to those who have owned a dog as a pet.

Happy, sad, quiet or boisterous; dogs respond to our moods and, moreover, we can control their behaviour by changing our own outlook.  For example if a dog is becoming too playful the best way to calm it is to exhibit calm behaviour ourselves.  Interestingly, the same conscious control response can also work when we are dealing with other people.  Be angry and you will most likely get anger in return, be calm and it is easier to diffuse awkward situations.

It’s a lesson which many leaders would do well to bring into the office.  When leaders demand results or reports then they may receive obedience but they won’t engender engagement.   Similarly when leaders shut themselves away, when they concentrate on figures and percentages then they are missing out on the chance to identify and influence the mood of the organisation.  Countless studies have shown the positive impact which employee engagement has on a business’s profitability and reputation; but unless leaders are sensitive to the mood of the business and work to improve it then they have little chance of creating engagement.

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