Compassion at Work

Compassion at Work is a really important book for people to read and, moreover, to apply. As Fred Kofman wrote in Conscious Business, “There are no death camps in corporations, but many apparently successful companies hide great suffering in their basements.”
Is it really that bad? There are still too many organizations where it is that bad. That’s why the research that Jane Dutton and Monica Worline present is vital. This is not touchy-feely stuff. This is proven to be a competitive advantage in the workplace. There’s a business case for caring and compassion. It’s as the tagline says: Compassion is the quiet power that elevates people and organizations.

Suffering in the workplace

As Dutton and Worline write: The vast majority of businesses continue to be run by men, based on a very limited set of hypermasculine values, such as domination, aggression, ambition, competition, winning at all costs, short-term thinking, and a zero-sum view of the world. Do you face brutal deadlines, competitive pressure, insensitive management, toxic work cultures, relentless schedules, and demands?

Healing of suffering begins with compassion. That is the master key. Compassion is rooted in a fundamental human drive: the need to care. Human beings have at least three primary drives: self-interest, the need to care, and, increasingly, the need to live a life of meaning and purpose.
But what if employees who are treated with compassion take advantage of their managers or their organizations? Will compassion toward one member of the team set a precedent that locks the manager or organization into a costly pattern of action in the future?

Compassion yields competitive advantage

Research shows that is not the case. Instead, it builds loyalty and teamwork. Because of its role in enhancing collective capabilities like innovation, service quality, collaboration, and adaptability, compassion matters for competitive advantage. Compassion contributes to an organization’s financial resilience, profitability, and customer retention after downsizing. ∞ Compassionate business units exhibit better financial performance and higher employee and customer retention.

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Compassion is an irreplaceable dimension of excellence for any organization that wants to make the most of its human capabilities. So, how can you enable it at work? Dutton and Worline share many small but impactful things to do – that contribute to creating a positive culture. Read this book to see what you can apply!

My friend Kimberley Barker (lecturer at Cleary University and Eastern Michigan University) was so enthusiastic about the book that she made this video review.

Kimberley tells about a colleague she once had, a former pastor’s wife who was always helping people out in so many ways. This manager had next to no turnover. She had the best and the happiest team at work.

What would this world be like if we had thousands of leaders and employees creating compassionate work environments? Wouldn’t that be awesome?

Please read:
“Awakening Compassion at Work: The Quiet Power that Elevates People and Organizations,” by Monica Worline and Jane Dutton.

By the way, I am happy and proud that Jane Dutton is one of our Positive Agents as well!

This is a Summer post.

Marcella Bremer is blogging her next book: “Positive Power at Work – How to make a positive difference from any position.” She will resume this series in September 2017.
In the meantime, to catch up reading – start with post #1 or check the Positive Power overview and read the Positive Agent Manifesto.

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Chris Groscurth


    This is a great review. I couldn’t agree more with your conclusions drawn from the book.

    Compassion is a choice. The process can be learned. And it’s absolutely a necessary leadership skill for success in the digital age or organizing. I recently shared a post on this on, if you’re interested, which cites Monica and Jane’s excellent work.

    Keep up the great work!

    Chris Groscurth

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