anna-vander-stel-60342Business can be brutal sometimes.

And when you feel that stress, you tend to pass it on to your people. In the form of pressured deadlines, brutal feedback, and snippy interactions.

Your employees can put up with the normal pressures of their work, but it’s this stress that drives them away. The message is that you don’t care, and everyone’s life would be easier if they weren’t around. So they leave – maybe not today, but eventually.

Your job as a leader is to build some caring into your organization. I’m not saying that you have to get all touchy-feely and have an environment that’s soft and fluffy.

I would consider the U.S. Marines to be a compassionate organization. Yes, the results they deliver are world-class and hard as nails. But each person never doubts that the others are there to protect them, especially when the going gets tough. Leaders truly care about each person on their team.

In the normal workplace, compassion starts with honest listening. When you understand where each person is coming from and what they’re concerned about, your normal human instincts will kick in and set you in the right direction.

Here’s a simple example: A worker tells you that she needs to stay home with a sick child. All of a sudden, she’s created a problem for you, perhaps even a big one. Your gut reaction might be to want her to just suck it up and take the job seriously.

But if you listen to her, openly, you’ll hear the concern she has for someone who’s dependent on her. You’ll hear that her priorities place health and family at the top. It’s not that she doesn’t care about her job, just that it’s not always top priority.

We’ve now turned on your empathy. And compassion.

So yes, this may be tremendously inconvenient. But, honestly, it’s YOUR job as the leader to help navigate these kinds of challenges. So don’t put it all on the poor employee who’s just doing her best.

This is what will create the compassionate workplace, one where people want to stay around and support YOU and your larger goals.

This article was first published in InnovatioNews.