• HR Intelligence

Top 5 books for managing change with empathy


When considering how to improve your managerial skills, increase business productivity, and reduce employee sick-time and turnover, whether or not you’re empathetic is not necessarily the first thing that springs to mind. Yet increasing scientific research points to the fact that understanding the needs of your workforce, is playing an increasingly important part in successful HR management.

While reading copious articles might give you an increasing insight into the benefits of compassion and a change of management approach, there is nothing like a good book on the subject, to provide that in-depth information. Especially so in these changing times and disrupted working practises due to the Covid pandemic. The upheaval of the past 6 months has been about managing change, sometimes at lightning speeds. Moving forward, now more than ever, employee and business needs should be balanced with empathy and benevolence, if we are to come out of this with minimum disruption and damage. The following are five of the top books to help you achieve.

Empathy: Why It Matters, and How to Get It. by Roman Krznaric

With what makes us all tick playing a bigger part in everything from schooling to good business practise, Roman Krznaric has travelled the world researching and speaking on the importance of empathy. A co-founder of the London based School of Life, his book gives an excellent insight into the human psyche, and the fact we are all programmed for social, gregarious interaction, rather than apathetic isolation. To form his opinions, Krznaric interviewed people across a broad cross-section of society, from actors to bankers, activists to nurses, and neuroscientists to designers. His research has led him to believe that truly empathetic people are wired with six additional traits, which provide the ability to interact with others in a way that is both beneficial to themselves, and those around them.

The Empathy Factor: Your Competitive Advantage for Personal, Team, and Business Success. by Marie R. Miyashiro

When the author has been consulted on empathetic company management by small businesses, universities, government departments in the US and Asia, and Fortune 500 companies, there has to be something in what she says right? Add to that collaboration with Jerry Colonna, named in Upside Magazine’s list of the ‘100 Most Influential People of the New Economy’ and it could just be a book worth reading. Miyashiro answers questions regarding the real definition of empathy as it applies to business management and productivity. The book deals with the practical aspects of how building a more empathetic outlook to working practises can result in increased creativity, productivity, and profitability.


Wired to Care: How Companies Prosper When They Create Widespread Empathy. by Dev Patnaik

How often has it been said when large, long-established businesses begin to fail ‘they lost touch with their customer base.’ Dev Patnaik has had articles published in many print and online journals, as well as regularly being consulted by the likes of Hewlett-Packard, General Electric, Procter & Gamble, Nike, and Target. He is also a regular speaker at business conferences and a professor at Stanford University. His book is about the difficulties faced by large company CEOs when trying to instigate a more empathetic workplace ethic, but it goes further than that. It covers how a compassionate mind-set can improve a person’s overall demeanour and decision making processes. Leading to not just an improved, more productive workplace, but enhanced relations with their customer base.

Mean People Suck: How Empathy Leads to Bigger Profits and a Better Life. by Michael Brenner

Although things in the boardroom are changing, there are still a large number of bosses, business managers, and CEOs, who believe showing a little workplace compassion is just a short step away from having the tail wagging the dog. Michael Brenner has years of experience dealing with different mind-sets. He is recognised as a top keynote and motivational speaker by Entrepreneur Magazine, and The Huffington Post, and recognised as a top CMO influencer by Forbes. He has also been engaged by over 75 leading brands to help implement employee collaboration programmes. Much of Brenner’s book is based on his personal experiences from over 50 positions in the sales and marketing industry. He is also the co-author of two previous books.

Applied Empathy: The New Language of Leadership. by Michael Ventura

As a gifted entrepreneur, Michael Ventura has collaborated with an impressive list of Fortune 500 companies and start-ups, plus institutions like the UN and the Obama Administration. A book for all levels of HR management, and business management in general, he shows that empathy is not solely about being sympathetic, but about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, about being a little more understanding. With a more empathetic and sensitive approach to business matters, employees, customers, and your own psyche, you can improve workplace satisfaction and optimism for yourself, employees, and customers.

Whatever your choice of book, if nothing else in these times of adjustment and uncertainty, it will help provide an insight into the benefits of a more empathetic lifestyle. And how all of us can benefit from being a little more understanding and compassionate in a world currently so full of anxiety and unpredictability.