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Last week’s article was about the significant impact that supervisors have on work lives. They can make or break happiness and productivity levels on the job.

It explored two traits that make a supervisor stand out from the pack. We looked at what it means to be a people person and how this trait can be developed.  And we discovered ways to practice being egoless in our interactions.

Spending time thinking about and developing yourself or the supervisors you lead is an investment in everyone who is touched by the supervisor.  It’s pivotal for ensuring organizational success.

Today’s article delves into two more traits of remarkable supervisors: enthusiastic and empathetic.

Enthusiasm is Contagious

We all know enthusiastic people.  They have that careful balance of energy, positive perspective, and focus on action.

Too much of any one of these three throws the balance off.  Too much energy and you get the cheer leader feel.  Too much positivity and you’ve hit the Pollyanna mark.  Too much focus on action can come across as exhausting.

But just the right blend draws others in and spreads like a good rumor. The reason is that enthusiastic people make others feel good. We like to be around people who make us feel good. And it gives us the spirit needed to be enthusiastic ourselves.

You Can Do This

The enthusiastic supervisor doesn’t just feel strongly that they themselves can make things happen, their can-do attitude extends to the capabilities of the individuals on their team.

Enthusiasm can turn around the most apathetic person.  There is nothing more motivating that someone who believes in you.

I have lots of great reasons for getting projects done: serving my clients, supporting my family, and expanding my reach.  But I seem to accomplish more when I have someone who has expressed what they believe I am capable of and has encouraged me to make steps toward my goals. When the going gets tough, I picture that person in my head and I don’t want to let her down.

For people on the less expressive side, enthusiasm can be intimidating.  Anything that takes you out of your comfort zone has that effect. 

What I have discovered is that when your intent is the best interest of the other person, you’ll be less aware of how awkward you feel.  Anything genuine that brings out the greatest qualities in someone else will never come off as forced or fake. It can’t because it is coming from the heart.

It may help to practice on friends and family first.  Once you get the immediate gratification of seeing the uplifting impact it has on others, it’ll quickly become a habit that will transfer easily to the workplace.

Empathy Makes Us More Human

Good supervisors are empathetic.  They’re kind, caring, and can put themselves in other people’s shoes.  They get us and that makes them seem more human; more relatable.

These are the supervisor’s everyone wants to work with.  We’ll take on extra shifts and pick up extra responsibilities for the supervisor who cares.

It’s so much easier for supervisors to be unsympathetic.  With so many responsibilities and demands coming from bosses, staff, and peers, it’s faster to cut conversations short, stick to the rules, and see things in black and white.

Being empathetic necessitates slowing down, listening, and opening up to the gray area.

It Takes Courage

It takes courage to be empathetic because once you understand another’s troubles you’re emotionally invested and investments come with risks.

Even though you’ve heard the person’s story, you may have to apply a consequence that he/she doesn’t like.  That’s tough stuff when you’ve opened up to feeling their pain.

Or there may be times when you need to take a stand against leaders or other staff in order to bend the rules for an individual in a unique situation.  That requires putting your reputation and often your neck on the line.

Bravery is required either way the situation goes.

Practice Builds Empathy Muscles

The best way to build empathy as a supervisor is to ask questions.  Asking questions demonstrates that you’re interested.  When you show concern for others, they’ll open up and share with you.

The more you know about a person, the more you understand what makes a person do what they do.  This provides the opportunity to be empathetic rather than judgmental.

Doing this frequently creates a habit of empathy that over time will build the trust your staff has for you.

Share Your Stories

Please share your experiences being on the giving or receiving end of enthusiasm and empathy in the comment section below.

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If you know someone who may like this article, please feel free to share it.  This will help us reach more people who can benefit from these ideas or our support.

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We’re Here to Help

People Matters provides support to business owners and leaders in all areas of human resources management including but not limited to the topic in this article: being a great supervisor.

HR is what we at People Matters love to do! We help our clients create great workplaces that engage employees and produce better business results.

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1 Comment

  1. Captain America on April 7, 2017 at 11:59 am

    That was awesome.

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