Team Anywhere Toolkit #2: Keys to Create A Working Environment of Empathy and Genuine Connection

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In this special episode of Team Anywhere, Mitch and Ginny recap lessons they have learned from previous podcast guests and well-known leadership personalities, and share insights and tools that can be immediately put to use. Dubbed as the “Team Anywhere Toolkit,” this guide provides leaders with actionable items that can truly impact their organization as they team anywhere.

In the second Team Anywhere Toolkit, Mitch and Ginny discussed the important tips to create a working environment of empathy and how to create genuine connection with team members. These actionable tips are based on their research data, leadership concepts derived from Brené Brown, Sara Noll Wilson, Marcus Buckingham and previous podcast guests.

Regular Emotional Check for Team Members

Leaders are often focused not on the emotional welfare of their team members but to the results they can provide to the organization. This is the old-school textbook type of leadership. But when the pandemic happened and the Great Resignation occurred, leadership had to evolve to an empathetic mindset to foster inclusion and productivity. 

This can be done by leaders taking the responsibility of asking team members “how are you feeling?” This type of question gives team members a “green-light” that discussing their emotions inside the workplace is completely fine. A leader’s simple gesture of acknowledging and being curious of their employees’ emotional welfare is a must-have leadership characteristic. This will eventually result in greater engagement scores, improved collaboration between team members, and better customer satisfaction. 

Asking the Right Questions and Responding Appropriately

Empathy takes time and it is worth the time. The main point discussed is how to demonstrate empathy and curiosity towards a team member’s emotional welfare. Mitch and Ginny discussed an important concept learned from Marc Buckingham, which is “what do you need from me now?” This question is a gift to team members and basically shows care, interest and empathy.

Ginny and Mitch then discussed how it is just as important to give appropriate responses to team members’ questions as it is to ask the right questions. Responses should enable a leader to get down into the hole with the person rather than yelling things from the top of the hole. Furthermore, responses must be genuine, comfortable, and psychologically safe for team members to build that sense of empathy and genuine connection.

Compelling Team Members to Share Their Stories

Leaders must develop a series of engagement activities that foster sharing and empathetic connections. This is having “story sharing meetings” that allow team members and the leader to open up. Again, the right stories can evolve by asking the right questions, such as “What’s the most difficult thing you’re working on right now?” or “What’s the greatest relationship you’re having at work right now?” 

These follow-up questions encourage conversations where team members can openly share their challenges, feelings and emotions in a psychology safe environment without judgment. Such dialogue leads participants through a transformation of feelings, which in turn, move them to become happier and more productive at work.

Creating the Culture of Giving Feedback 

Often, leaders give feedback that is blunt without regard to a team member’s feelings. Leaders should focus on creating “feedback cultures” where the sensitive giving and receiving of feedback is an everyday occurance. Building a culture wherein feedback is open and delightedly accepted, creates a commitment towards doing what is best for individuals, the team, and the organization. 

Who is Mitch Simon and Ginny Bianco-Mathis?

Mitch Simon and Ginny Bianco-Mathis are co-hosts of the Team Anywhere Podcast, a podcast focused on helping leaders build teams and culture from anywhere in the world. Their full bios, vision, and background can be found on Download the toolkit that accompanies this episode by clicking on this link. 

To learn more about Creating a Working Environment of Empathy and Genuine Connection download this episode now.

Online Courses for Leaders Leading a Team From Anywhere:

Check out these online courses for remote leaders from the Team Anywhere Team.

How to Be an Effective Remote Manager | How to Build Virtual Accountability

Creating a Working Environment of Empathy and Genuine Connection Teams Quotes

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