Empathy has been a hot topic. Wherever you go in the learning space—from preschool to the boardroom—teachers and leaders are stressing the importance of empathy. The growing number of millennials in the workforce have changed the emotional make up of our corporate world. They are, rightfully, pushing for greater authenticity, meaning, and transparency from the companies they work with. This renewed focus on empathy, however, falls short of its optimistic intentions.
Go to any office in America and you will probably hear about the childish behavior of some co-workers. Managers will express frustration that their direct reports are acting like children. The implication is that acting like a child is a problem because a child doesn’t play nice, doesn’t share, and has no initiative or accountability. This is an insult to children - since we can all learn a lot from our former selves.
Trust is key to any organization’s success. We all recognize its importance. We want trust in our workplace: from our co-workers, supervisors, and clients. Most people consider themselves to be great models of trust. The truth, however, is that there is a gap between that perception and reality—a gap which has proven problematic from a learning perspective.
Have you ever felt like you work in a parallel universe? Perhaps you walk into the office and immediately feel like you have stepped into a poorly scripted episode of the Twilight Zone, where there seems to be an alternate reality in which passive-aggressiveness reigns and accountability is nonexistent. If your office refrigerator is littered with handwritten signs and your company’s values are more often discussed than put into action, your company has an organizational honesty problem.
One of the biggest challenges leaders face is transforming a group into a team. A group is a collection of individuals who work separately to achieve an outcome. They typically don’t share a meaningful purpose or collective work product.