People Leadership

Don’t Take It Personally: Managing Sensitive Employees

January 9, 2019

We’ve all been there. You have a tough talk with an employee, then they’re overcome with emotions and begin to cry. For some managers, this display of emotions can make a difficult situation even more uncomfortable. So what do you do with an ‘over-sensitive’ employee?

As an employer or HR manager, you are tasked with managing a wide variety of employee personalities every day. It’s likely that you have worked with highly sensitive employees, and there are many challenges and opportunities associated with developing strong working relationships with these workers. Sensitivity means being aware of others’ needs and emotions, as well as understanding that how others behave affects how we think and feel. What are the first things that come to mind when you think about a sensitive employee?

Some of us might tend to create a mental list of the negative and undesirable aspects typically associated with high sensitivity. But highly sensitive people have an innate ability to show empathy, sense when others are going through difficult times, and understand the needs of others. People who are highly sensitive have many great qualities that benefit the workplace. These employees can demonstrate empathy and understand the need to be supported by others. Yet, when faced with criticism or unpleasant conditions, some of these workers react more sensitively and express their emotions in ways that perhaps we wouldn’t ourselves, at least in a professional setting.

As a manager or HR professional, it’s important to look at your own sensitivity levels and re-assess your approach with employees who are more sensitive, to create more meaningful relationships. This way, in tougher situations or in difficult conversations, you can choose your words more carefully, focus on the positive, and be aware of the emotions of your employees to ensure these interactions stay constructive.

Are you looking for ways to effectively manage sensitive employees to maximize their performance, and maintain a positive working relationship with them? Download our FREE Guide to Managing Employees with Sensitive Personalities and try our tips.

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