Empathy and compassion as cornerstones of teamwork

In a recent HBR article (“To Make a Team more Effective, Find their Commonalities”) , David DeSteno emphasizes cooperation and trust between employees as vital elements for organizations that have to deal with increasingly complex problems at an ever faster pace.

Teams, not individuals, are the future of work. Now how do you move teammates from mere colleague behavior to true collaboration? According to DeSteno it’s by building their empathy and compassion. “When it comes to empathy and compassion, the most powerful tool is a sense of similarity – a belief that people’s interests are joined and, thus, that they’re all on the same team and will benefit from supporting each other.

It’s important for employees to know that, if they come up with new ideas, the others in their group will be supportive -or at least not criticize them. Knowing that credit and work will be shared. In short, they need teammates who understand their feelings (= empathy) and care about their wellbeing (= compassion). Companies like Google, Zappos and Slack recruit and hire for these qualities in an effort to bolster a culture that emphasizes teamwork.

When it comes to empathy and compassion, the most powerful tool is a sense of similarity – a belief that people’s interests are joined and, thus, that they’re all on the same team and will benefit from supporting each other.

If you’re looking to increase these qualities, and therefore cooperation and trust, on your team, DeSteno advises you to structure the working environment to foster those feelings automatically. Learn about team members, find commonalities or shared interests and begin to highlight them in discussion. Develop a team identity and encourage people to categorize themselves as part of it. Or… Engage in some out-of-office activities that enhance a sense of cohesion.

What better activity to do than a good old Hercules Trophy? It doesn’t only emphasize the strengths of your team members. Wearing the same outfit, waiving your company flag and competing against other companies, performing challenges together, run, sweat, laugh and celebrate together: these are exactly the cornerstones of internal cohesion.131.jpg

 

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