Highly Sensitive managers are one way your organisation can solve the problem of managers with poor 'soft skills'.
Managers can make or break a person’s experience at work, due to the close contact they have with team members, and the effect this has on their daily work lives. You’ve heard that people leave managers, more than they leave jobs. So, having managers who work well with their teams is essential to retaining your best people.
In these times of increased movement between jobs, due to re-assessing working conditions and alignment with purpose, retaining your best talent is one of your top priorities. How do you do it? By offering more incentives and perks? Increasing salaries? There are several approaches to take, which you’re no doubt already working on. Here, I offer one, perhaps surprising, way to ensure you have managers (or HODs, or supervisors) who excel in ‘soft skills’ – the human aspect of managing well: choose managers with Highly Sensitive temperaments.
A recent study by the Australian College of Applied Professions found these results:
"65% say their manager struggles with soft skills…. The biggest perceived gaps" are in empathy (27% - i.e. 27% of employees in the study said their manager struggles with empathy), effective communication (25%), active listening (21%), flexibility (21%), and emotional intelligence (20%).
In addition, "1 in 2 remote employees are concerned about interacting with their manager when they return to the workplace. This is due to managers’:
65% is a concerning majority. You might consider improving these gaps through training – but how effective is training in changing a person’s ingrained habits and even personality? Some of these interpersonal skills can be taught more effectively than others, such as active listening and effective communication. A person can learn to be more empathetic. But emotional intelligence is a long-term learning process, and empathy and flexibility are also the result of long practice, and a strong desire to develop them.
A different option, which overcomes these difficulties, is to hire and promote Highly Sensitive managers – and make sure their workplace has the conditions which allow them to thrive. People with a Highly Sensitive temperament are naturally empathetic, deeply interested in and responsive to others and aware of their needs, notice subtleties - including how someone is feeling and little differences in their condition - and consider ‘the big picture’. All of these contribute to emotional intelligence and the ability to respond flexibly and appropriately to team members’ ideas, needs, and talents.
You wouldn't want all managers to have this same temperament; but having a good mix will help eliminate some of these too-common difficulties between managers and their teams. A good strategy is to aim for the same average ratio (of Highly Sensitive to non-Sensitive) as naturally exists in the population: around 20%.
How many Highly Sensitive managers does your organisation have? Are there systems in place to identify and support them, so that their innate gifts can shine and be put to excellent use?
Soft skills aren’t the only area Highly Sensitive people excel in. Here’s a list of some of the other benefits they bring to their workplaces, especially when able to thrive.
Photo 1 by Amy Hirschi on Unsplash
Photo 2 by Sincerely Media on Unsplash
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Tamara - Sensitive Thrive is my consulting business. I believe that the world needs Highly Sensitive people who are flourishing. We need their hope, insight, wisdom, and awareness of beauty and possibility. My vision is to help create a culture where this temperament is known, understood and valued; where organisations seek Highly Sensitive people to work for them, because they know what they can do. Where HS people feel like they fit in their workplaces, because those workplaces also fit them. A world where HS people belong, thrive, and flourish, and the world is better for it.