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  • Writer's pictureBranka van der Linden

Putting People First: A Manager's Guide to Compassionate Leadership


Female Mentor in action

We are all human beings, yet sometimes we try to be human doings!


In that process, we forget that we are working with other humans who have their own lives, experiences, expectations, and ambitions. As managers, sometimes we get caught up in trying to do more constantly.


In the workplace, it is crucial to consider the needs and well-being of employees rather than just focusing on achieving immediate outcomes.


Managers should adopt a compassionate approach to managing staff, and this begins with open and transparent communication.

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In the fast pace environment and often with budget considerations, when faced with difficult decisions such as letting someone go or needing faster results, we should take the time to ask our employees some important questions.


The questions aim to explore different options that could help the employee stay in the company or find a more suitable role within the organisation rather than managers just dismissing them.


These questions should focus on the employee's happiness in the working environment, how to better support them in achieving results faster, and what options exist to help resolve any financial challenges. They should also explore whether the employee would consider working in a different department, accepting reduced remuneration or commission-only pay, or working part-time. Moreover, it is crucial to stress the significance of compensating any decrease in pay with supplementary perks and granting employees more leisure time if they choose to continue working without a fixed income.

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Ten questions you could ask:

  1. How do you feel in this working environment with your current role and responsibilities?

  2. How can we improve our communication and collaboration as a team to enhance productivity and performance?

  3. What could we do better to support you in achieving results faster? What obstacles prevent you from achieving your goals, and how can we help you overcome them?

  4. Given your current skill set and experience, is there a different department that you would be interested in exploring that aligns with your career goals?

  5. What suggestions do you have for reducing costs or generating additional revenues that you believe would be feasible and effective?

  6. If we were to reduce your remuneration due to budget constraints, what other forms of compensation or benefits would be most valuable to you?

  7. Would you be open to a commission-based compensation structure if it meant retaining your position within the company?

  8. What other non-financial benefits or incentives would motivate you to continue working with us in case of pay cut?

  9. If we were to offer you a part-time position with specific events and meetings, would you be interested in continuing to work with us in that capacity?

  10. How important is having free time outside of work to you, and would you be willing to continue in your position without fixed pay with additional time off?


By asking these honest, relevant and precise questions, managers can better understand their employees' perspectives and needs and come up with solutions that align with mutual goals and values.


As managers, we should be creative in exploring different options to support our employees during challenging times. Overall, it's essential to prioritise people over profits, and this is the opportunity for managers to transition to leaders.


I often practice the advice to 'think on paper.'


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