The pandemic has affected everyone differently, so leaders should expect their employees to return to work with different burdens on their shoulders. This makes stepping back into that leadership role even more challenging, but you can be more successful and help your team perform better by being more empathetic. If you’re uncertain how to use empathy to motivate your team, here are a few tips.

Listen to Your Team
The first step in using empathy in the workplace is to become an attentive listener. It has become instinctive for people to think about what they will say in response to someone rather than listening to what’s really being said. By training yourself to focus on the other half of the conversation, you’ll be better able to understand your team member’s situation. 

Don’t Judge
Another habit that can interfere with your ability to lead in a post-pandemic workplace is the tendency to judge. You will never know the truth about your team members’ experiences at home, so resist the urge to make assumptions about them. Instead, try to keep an open mind, and remember it’s not up to you to provide approval. You’ll understand your team better when you can openly accept a wider worldview.

Take an Interest
When you see that something is bothering a team member, the worst thing you can do is to act as though it’s business as usual. Instead, you should take the individual aside for a private one-on-one meeting. During the meeting, try to open up with the individual to find out what’s bothering them. They may just need a release, and that one conversation may be enough. If the situation is more complex, you can find out how you can help them function better in the workplace. This may involve allowing more leeway in making personal phone calls, providing an extra break, or offering more flexible hours. 

Returning to work is going to be complicated for most people. As a leader, taking on a more understanding demeanor can help make this transition a little easier. It will help you motivate your team in a more positive manner while you ensure everyone on your team is struggling as little as possible. In the end, this will benefit the organization or company as much as it benefits individual team members.