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Empathy

The w
orst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. George Bernard
Shaw.


Empathy is the understanding and consideration that the internal participants (managers and workers) have for each other and the external participants. Examples include: suppliers who are paid on time and have the security of a long-term relationship; customers who are attended to quickly and efficiently by someone who is sympathetic and competent; employees who have a good working environment. However, the attention given to different participants often gets out of proportion, as when customers are pandered to at the expense of employees working extremely long hours and suppliers who are kept waiting for payment.

Standards are important:
There should be standards for dealing with each of the participants. Many local government departments have adopted the following targets for dealing with the public and these are published in their newsletters.
- Personal callers will be seen by an officer within 10 minutes.
- Telephones will be answered within four rings (10 sec). 
- Callers will have an initial response within one working day.
- Letters will be answered with a considered response within seven working days.

Empathy depends on
:

Defining points of contact
between the organization and the participants. A person or group should be nominated to look after the interests of each of the participants (employees have staff representatives, customers have user groups, but who looks after the suppliers' interests?).
Recognizing possible areas of conflict
. Catering to every whim of customers can put intolerable pressure on employees and in the end prove uneconomic. Also, managers continually talking about shareholders' interests is very annoying to most employees.
Measuring participant satisfaction
. Most organizations ask customers and clients to assess them, but this should also apply to suppliers, alliance partners and neighbours. The results of surveys should be published with actions to be taken.
Responding to queries and resolving problems
. A 70 per cent immediate response will often diffuse situations and will be better than waiting a week to get a 95 per cent correct one. >>>