How Pressure Keeps Us From Caring

There is ever increasing body of research that suggests that in order to have more productive employees, engaged customers and higher retention that managers/leaders need to genuinely (Drumroll please)… about them! Why is it so hard to care for others at work and why do we tend to de-emphasize it so much? Mantras stated or unstated that exasperate the notion of “just put your head down and get your work down” or “employees aren’t my friends, they have a job to do” keep us at seemingly acceptable professional distance. I’ve never been able to do that as I tend to care about those I spend hours a day with!

It’s not uncommon for employees to admit that they don’t care about those they work with. I even remember an employee in one of my sessions stating “I don’t want the company to care about me.” Is the notion of care, which may also mean to be vulnerable, sharing parts of our lives and self with those we spend our days with – so ridden with fear? In my recent readings, I have come across studies that correlate the greater stress and pressure an individual is under, the less empathy they tend to have and express towards others. This isn’t new. How many of us when under stress or pressure have snapped at a colleague or even a loved one? So if pressure is the problem, and for most of us an everyday reality, how do we solve it?

We first need to understand that our brains are wired to survive, not thrive. When under pressure, we are triggered to preserve ourselves, and the reptilian brain kicks in and we are in survival mode. (Fight or Flight). Others become either threats to us or irrelevant – and we are on the defence or attack. Unknowingly, once triggered, we allow our biology to now control our behaviour and we build habits based not on whats best for our organization and others, but from a place of survival and fear. People are no longer equals to me and a mindset of judgement, cynicism, mistrust and the objectification of others sets in. I call it the Me Mindset. People generally act what they feel, and when that is being driven by a survival mentality, lack of empathy, poor discernment, relationships and good decision making are the victims. So, what are some possible solutions? Im suggesting you consider the Magnanimous 4P’s. 

1) Purpose: What is it you want to create in your team or organization? Whats your vision?

2) People: Build genuine relationships with employees, customers and stakeholders. Be curious about their lives and learn empathy.

3) Productivity: Focus on the activities that will help you achieve your declared intent (Purpose). Its easy to be busy, its strategic to be busy doing the things that will get you to where you want to go.

4) Profit: Analyze the benefit, document key learnings and make the adjustments needed to continue to Be On Purpose 

Leave a Comment