Showing empathy as a project manager

by Elise Stevens | Futureproof Your Career Podcast

Have you ever had a conversation with a colleague or boss and later realised they weren’t listening to a word you said? Chances are they weren’t practicing active listening. Maybe you’re guilty of this yourself?

For a long time, people have taken a backseat in project management with tools and technology considered the most important and exciting resources. But program manager Elena Zagorenko believes the industry is undergoing a dramatic mindset shift.

As she explains to Elise Stevens in this podcast, all teams are made of human beings after all – and human beings who feel supported and respected usually work harder.

Elena is the chapter president of the Australian Institute of Project Management in South Australia and a busy program manager. She is passionate about raising the next generation of project managers and believes the best results come when you positively influence the behaviour of individuals and teams.

Points raised in this podcast:

  • Empathy is one of the most important vehicles for motivating people to work hard.
  • Fake empathy is easy to see through. Genuine empathy is rare in the workplace.
  • People-focused project management is slowly gaining traction within the industry.
  • Years ago, tools and technology were exciting because they were new. But too much focus on the tools often meant teams wouldn’t last.
  • Empathy comes naturally to many people – but not to all. It’s not something that can be switched on and off and must be practiced in daily life.
  • Research the Behavioural Change Stairway Model. Active listening is the first step and is a good place to start to build towards empathy.
  • Project managers should try to imagine how they would feel in their stakeholders’ shoes.
  • Leaders should serve their teams, rather than expect to be served by them.
  • Project managers get all the blame, but also all the fame. Don’t let your team be overlooked.
  • Make sure you’re practicing empathy for the right reason – to be a good human being, not to manipulate others.
  • Be open to new ideas when building relationships.

You can connect with Elena on LinkedIn.