Some time ago I was concerned to learn the results of a study. Teenagers were assessed as to the level of involvement they had with their cell phones. As expected, it was very high for many of the teenagers. They looked at their phones all the time and communicated with their friends by phone, it seemed, almost in preference to face to face interaction. They had become used to discussing problems, sometimes of a quite personal nature, using cryptic and impersonal abbreviations and emojis.
Clinical psychologist and sociologist Sherry Turkle has conducted extensive research on the subject that she shared in her book Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age (2015). In this book, she stated that teenagers have reduced their empathetic capacity by 40%, as well as their ability to engage in deep conversation, and that cell phones are to blame.
As managers strive to improve their managerial success, and new members join their teams, they will face a challenge relating to those new members.
Initially conscientious managers will modify their contact style with each member to achieve the best cooperation and harmony. One on one their interactions should progress quite well.
Difficulties may arise as the manager tries to build teams with his new members who now have to interact with one another in close proximity without much experience. Their poorly developed empathetic skills may create tensions which the manager does not grasp. Misunderstanding the reasons for these tensions may reveal to the team members inadequacies in the manager’s skills jeopardizing both his and their success.
While improved productivity is a natural goal in any joint effort, any manager must recognize the necessity of providing ongoing training to team members. Time must be made available for it and it must include ‘soft’ skills as much as technical or administrative improvement. Coaching seminars are commonplace nowadays but developing empathy is a complex task and managers must find several approaches that develop empathy and impress its importance to the whole team. The manager will improve her or his effectiveness by dedicating as much time and interest in the topic as is expected of all the team, and by ensuring the team witnesses that dedication.
Lyskam-educated managers learn the importance of inspiring others. They become dynamizers and promoters and know how to empower the people who accompany them along the way.