Character First the Magazine

Building a Culture of Compassion

Donate hereAlthough sometimes it may feel that work is simply about making money, most of us want more than just a paycheck. We want a place to work where we have opportunity to earn a living while working with others who genuinely appreciate our contributions to the team.

Often, when organizations are on the decline, they lose their personal touch. Instead of being places where a good work ethic is valued and respected, these organizations become places where cynicism and negativity rule. In time, such organizations will die. People will not continue investing themselves in a place where they feel devalued.

Every organization includes a complex network of relationships, and the health of those relationships determines the health of the organization. Leadership involves being purposefully engaged in the lives of others.

This is why compassion is essential to organizational health. Compassion restores faith in humanity because it restores dignity and establishes a tone of respect. Leaders who show compassion are more likely to reduce workplace tension, resolve conflict, and heal the hurts that come with life.

I have found compassion is often the by-product of awareness. When we are more aware of others, we are typically more willing to show compassion. Do you want to work somewhere where people don’t express compassion to others? It is worth examining the path you are currently headed down.

Restoring a sense of compassion in your organization is an important step toward cultivating a culture where people respect and appreciate one another. Whether the compassion you show is working together on a community project, assisting a coworker rebuild a home after a fire, or listening to a customer who is going through a rough time, it is worth the time and effort.

Leadership tips:

We often think of compassion as something for special occasions, such as holidays, right after a tragedy, or while working on a charity project. But compassion is also a leadership characteristic.

  • The last time someone became sick or something else went wrong at work, was your first thought for the people or the project? How would you expect your response to affect your coworkers?
  • How do the power dynamics in your workplace affect how well you relate to others? You might not think you're intimidating, but if you have supervisory responsibility, your words and actions will be magnified in your colleagues' minds.
  • How can you create "water cooler moments" where low-pressure communication about work—and life—can happen?