Compassion at Work

Dr. Junid Bilal

It is old saying that human beings in organizations cannot act like machines because they carry their personal problems, cognition, feelings and emotions at work place. Superiors cannot gain respect, motivate and improve productivity if they are not sympathetic and empathetic to their subordinates.  The following real case shows how unsympathetic attitude develop differences between a superior and subordinate. The case was presented as it was narrated by an employee.

“I was working in an engineering organization as a Mechanical Technician. I got a baby who was unfortunately suffering from a serious illness and had to visit the hospital frequently for treatment. One day, my child was admitted in the hospital and my wife rang to tell me that the doctor wanted to speak to me urgently about blood transfusion. I hurriedly looked for my supervisor to tell him the about seriousness of the situation but could not find him in the hospital so I told one of my colleagues to tell the supervisor that I had to go to the hospital urgently and left my work place.

When the supervisor visited the workshop and did not find me at work went back to his office and made a report to the manager that I had been leaving the work place often without permission. After meeting the doctor, I straight away came back to my work where I found from the colleague that the supervisor visited the workshop but quickly left without talking to anyone. So, I once again looked for my supervisor but could not find him until next morning.

When I met him next morning during the daily routine meeting, he just started shouting on me and accused me for leaving the work place without permission. I was already upset so could not control my anger and replied back to him angrily.  So he immediately summoned me to go to the office of the Manager.

In the manager’s office, I explained the situation and reason to leave the office without informing the supervisor. The manager consoled me showed his sympathies towards my child health. He not only comforted me but also told the supervisor to go in my shoes to fully comprehend the situation.

After visiting Manager’s office, the supervisor did not show any understanding towards my situation; rather finding the opportunity to treat me unfairly. It seemed that he took it as an insult that the Manager did not support him. His behavior left me with no option to talk to my Manager and request him to transfer me from the Maintenance Department to another. He initially tried to convince me to remain in the department but accepted my request later and transferred me to another department after a month. Frankly speaking, I am happy and more productive in the new department. My relationship is friendly with the new supervisor.”

The above case shows that it was the manager’s understanding towards the personal problem of the employee helped in retaining the employee. If the Manager had acted in the similar fashion as the supervisor, they might have lost the hardworking worker. And, loosing a hard working and trustworthy employee is not a success for any organization. This is not a sole case when supervisors ignore employees’ personal problems rather it happens in many organization where superiors are more concerned about production than employee. Production-centered superiors not necessarily get more productivity; nor will it make them successful managers by ignoring employees’ problems and needs.  Balance between production-orientation and employee-orientation can only make superiors successful managers and leaders. To cut it short, managers should not ignore human personal problems of their subordinates because we all join, without considering the position, organizations with day-to-day problems that are part of human life. 

Case is taken from the research of  Nadeem Yousaf

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