Meeting Employee Needs Through Support, Involvement, and Empathy

Productivity and profitability are the most commonly used measurements for judging a leader’s abilities and success. But what are the underlying factors that produce such results? The research done by Development Dimensions International (DDI) points back to one thing: mastering the soft skills of communication and conversation. By connecting with the people who are performing the task, not just the task at hand, good leaders are able to meet employee needs.

A people first approach is especially important when adopting Lean manufacturing. The large majority of lean initiatives fail, many times because the employees struggle to fully embrace and buy-in to the changes at hand. Catalyst Connection’s David Rea, an expert in the field of leadership development and how to “Lead with Lean”, works with leaders to develop their coaching, communication, and problem solving skills. Rea seeks to build up leaders who prioritize meeting employee’s needs through support, involvement, and empathy.


It is a basic human need to feel valued. Meeting an employee’s need for worth and esteem should be a priority of any leader, and can be achieved in relatively straight-forward ways. Giving specific praise when things are going well shows that you are paying attention. Focusing on facts, not opinions, calls attention to areas of improvement. And, most importantly, avoiding the temptation to “do it yourself” when that often seems easier in the short-term.

The ability to respectfully encourage growth when coaching, all the while providing tools for success and removing potential barriers, will help an employee feel supported and valued.


People rarely produce their best work when they feel left out or replaceable. Asking for input – and genuinely considering those ideas – show that you trust and respect the abilities of employees. Lean manufacturing requires a full team buy-in, and commitment to these changes will come easier when the ideas are coming from the very people who will then carry them out. Involvement will also bring diverse ideas and creative approaches, which often lead to better problem-solving results.


Defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of others, empathy creates connection. This connection in turn creates safety and trust between leaders and employees, building a foundation of mutual respect and care. If an employee feels that their ideas are heard and their personal well-being is respected, they will be able to give and receive feedback. This openness can be a healthy template for growth across all levels of an organization.

DDI has seen clear evidence that empathy, and the necessary vulnerability that comes with it, is the most critical driver of overall performance in a workplace.

David Rea, along with the rest of the Catalyst Connection team, are certified channel partners of DDI. They bring a wealth of knowledge and tools to develop leadership training for manufacturers who are seeking to address employee needs. By focusing on support, involvement, and empathy, Catalyst offers a variety of services and training to improve communication skills and personal connection.