Should Your HR Department Deliver Compassion Training?

7  Components of Compassion Training Program

Scott Keller and Colin Price, in a new study entitled Beyond Performance, cite evidence that compassionate leaders outperform leaders who have a “what's in it for me” attitude and promote a culture of “each person for themselves”. Furthermore, in 600 companies studied, companies who bring compassion to their method of operation actually log up twice the financial performance of those who do not. The topic is also at the center of a series of ongoing research projects, including work being done at Stanford University's Center for Compassion and Altruism Research (CCARE). Finally, there are already researchers who are extolling the value of compassion training.

Here are seven components that need to be included if you are considering a compassion training program for your company:

  1. Employees will have to be introduced to the concept of lojong, which has its roots in Tibetan Buddhism. It reflects the practice of compassion training in the mind until the person being trained achieves spontaneous altruism. Lojong attempts to eradicate “what's in it for me” selfish attitudes that hurt both the person who thinks that way and those around them.
  2. Compassion training should be a strong component of mindfulness, which encourages employees to deal with their own stress by relinquishing concerns about the future or angst about the past and just live within the present moment. This brings with it the cultivation of mental stability, a foundation for compassion training.
  3. Programs should also include descriptions and examples of practices that show precisely what compassion is and how it can be blocked by certain negative behaviors in a workplace setting.
  4. Employees must focus on compassion for friends, their family, and themselves, as well as their co-workers and supervisors.
  5. They also need to consider compassion for strangers, difficult clients, and people they generally dislike.
  6. Specified steps for employees to create more connection and compassion with their clients and co-workers need to be laid out.
  7. Team members must learn methods for developing the ability to be empathetic and grateful for their team members, whether or not they like their team or consider them difficult to work with.

Can you really expect that your highly individualistic employees will embrace compassion training? Frans de Waal, a Dutch pioneer in research about compassion training, believes that you can succeed, since human beings are compassionate by nature. He argues that people were originally wired for connectivity and caring about each other as a team, a motivation that is as powerful as our urge to care about ourselves. Using compassion training in the modern workplace, he suggests, is a key to encouraging creativity and an incredibly impressive team work.

Do you believe compassion training will make a difference in your company's workplace productivity and creativity? Share with us your thoughts and experiences.