I am in the middle of a fairly sizable harassment training project for a client. Lucky for me, the client’s new HR manager comes to all my sessions and chimes in. The employees often have to deal with, shall we say, a rather challenging customer base.

And this HR manager has made it her job to really understand what these employees deal with on a daily basis, and to communicate that she gets it. I see the employees regarding this manager with a new found respect. She has put herself in their shoes and approaches them as an equal. She does not pepper them with pat responses or simply give them a set of corporate rules to follow.

In other words, she shows empathy.

This is an advanced but critical skill. For HR professionals, but also for managers. Be curious about what your employees deal with on a daily basis. Let them know you understand and are there to support them (in addition to all the other things you have to do). I’ve seen these employees look at their new HR manager with a lot of respect. And that’s good news for her and the business.