Empathy Mapping in Change Management

Employing EM as a strategy with change initiatives could make the transition easier because the focus is not just on employees’ feelings, especially since all good bosses will already take their people’s feelings into account and try to stave off the negative emotions and address ways to make the employees feel secure and comfortable.

Employing EM as a strategy with change initiatives could make the transition easier because the focus is not just on employees’ feelings, especially since all good bosses will already take their people’s feelings into account and try to stave off the negative emotions and address ways to make the employees feel secure and comfortable.

A recent LinkedIn article stated the use of Empathy Mapping (EM) in change management, which got me thinking that when we discuss change, we focus on how it makes people feel. If we can just make everyone feel happy, secure, or comfortable then the change initiative will be successful. Empathy Mapping is a UX design approach to help create simple, beautiful and successful designs and it doesn’t  just examine how the user feels. Empathy Mapping focuses on what a user sees, does, and thinks, in addition to feels. EM can also consider pain points and goals for the user. Employing EM as a strategy with change initiatives could make the transition easier because the focus is not just on employees’ feelings, especially since all good bosses will already take their people’s feelings into account and try to stave off the negative emotions and address ways to make the employees feel secure and comfortable.

Looking at the EM template included, the map demonstrates that there is a lot more to an experience than just feelings. While feelings may be what bubble to the surface when going through a transition, they are propelled to the surface because of what the whole person is experiencing. The questions in each of the quadrants and the pain and gain boxes illustrate the whole experience and before launching a change campaign asking bosses to complete this from their employees’ perspective can improve the process of explaining and/or implementing the initiative. Of particular use are the pain and gain points, because the pain points will illustrate the fears and the gain points can identify ways to sell employees on the change.

Another way to use the empathy mapping technique is to have employees complete this in reaction to a change initiative. It can help employees articulate their fears and allow for a comprehensive discussion of what the change will mean for them. It gives employees the sense of being heard which can make the overall experience easier. Consider using it anonymously as survey response to the change campaign and take a look at the worries, fears, and frustrations stated by the employees. Also, look at whether the gains- the benefits of the change has been recognized and articulated by the employees. The gains section can identify whether the proposed change has been accurately interpreted and/or received as intended.


Empathy Mapping can be a useful tool in helping clarify fears, expectations, and emotions during a battle for change.  

Zaimah Khan