Business Empathy

Empathy is the ability to recognize the emotions of a colleague and understand their motivations.  It is also, the most important trait in a business leader when attempting to affect change.  Though empathy may not directly hit the bottom line, it is critically important when it comes to bringing people together and opening up lines of communication.  Implementing ERP may seem technical and logical, but it is often more about politics, communication, and coping with change.

It may seem like an obvious expectation to have empathy for your fellow co-workers, but most employees operate with their blinders up.  Their worlds are very inwardly focused and once they’ve completed their task, they pass the responsibility over the fence and try not to think about it again.  This mentality is poisonous for an organization.  The most common symptoms of this malady are bad data, missed opportunities, and poor customer service.

As a consultant, I have come to rely on empathy to navigate the politics and emotions of an organization with the goal of bringing everyone towards the common objective of making ERP a success.  Inevitably, some employees are excited to move forward with the system, and some others are resistant to making a change.  By empathizing with business users, I have learnt to speak their language and use their motivations to align their goals with others.

Implementing ERP is a complete overhaul of your business.  When done correctly, every employee is affected by the change in system.  While it should offer a great deal of benefit, it may also come with its share of compromise.  If your employees are not aligned towards making the ERP solution a success, they will use each compromise as a reason to sabotage your efforts.

Before you can implement ERP, you need to have everyone pointed in the same direction, or the same problems that existed before implementing ERP are likely to remain.  While your consultant can guide you to aligning the interests of your business users, you will need to rely on your own agents of change within the organization if you want that change to be permanent.

Listen to your employees.  Try to empathize with them.  Learn to speak their language and influence them towards your goals.  You might be surprised at the results both in your ERP solution, and your business overall.

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