Katharine Manning: How Trauma Impacts Performance – and What Smart Leaders Can Do

How does trauma impact the workplace and organizational performance? If you’re a human being, then yes, trauma impacts you and your team. Trauma doesn’t care whether you’re at work or not. Everyone experiences trauma differently in their brain and body. The solution is to create a safe and trusting environment for leaders to get curious about their people and for someone in distress to be able to get support. The important thing to remember is that this isn’t a competition – no one’s trauma is more or less “worthy” than another’s.

Today, my guest Katharine Manning and I discuss what is trauma, how it affects the workplace, how we can recognize trauma in others, and 5 steps to respond to a colleague, team member – or frankly anyone – dealing with trauma. She shares great examples of how we might brush things off or inadvertently let go of a great employee when we’re not cognizant of trauma, what it means to be a trauma-informed organization, and three steps to creating one. This was a robust conversation and I know whether you are a leader or a colleague will get so much out of it to boost performance and engagement – while also supporting someone in need.


To access the episode transcript, please click on the episode title at http://www.TheEmpathyEdge.com 

Key Takeaways:

  • Any trauma will change us – we need to acknowledge that change, we can then embrace that new version of us.
  • Trauma can manifest itself in different ways in different people. It can also be triggered by situations that, for some, may not be triggering and for others it’s life-shattering. 
  • You can make tough decisions and be a strong leader with empathy. Those are the best leaders with the most successful companies. 


“Trauma isn’t a jacket that you can just take off when it’s time to go to work. We carry it with us and it affects how we show up…I want to get people away from trying to decide whether what you have gone through counts as trauma. Just focus on the person in front of you and what they need.” —  Katharine Manning

 About Katharine Manning, President, Blackbird DC and author, The Empathetic Workplace 

Katharine Manning is the President of Blackbird DC, which provides training and consultation on empathy at work. She is the author of The Empathetic Workplace: Five Steps to a Compassionate, Calm, and Confident Response to Trauma on the Job, and teaches at American University and in the Master’s in Trauma-Informed Leadership Program at Dominican University. She has worked on issues of trauma and victimization for more than 25 years.

References Mentioned

The Empathy Edge podcast, Sarah R. Browne, It’s Possible to Parent AND Lead without Punishment- the Brain Science Behind It

LinkedIn Article by Maria Ross: What Does Psychological Abuse at Work Look Like?

Connect with Katharine Manning

Blackbird DC: http://www.blackbird-dc.com

Book: The Empathetic Workplace: 5 Steps to a Compassionate, Calm, and Confident Response to Trauma on the Job 

X: https://twitter.com/kl_manning 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/katharine-manning/ 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EmpatheticWorkplace 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/empatheticworkplace/

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Connect with Maria: 

Get the podcast and book: TheEmpathyEdge.com

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Take my LinkedIn Learning Course! Leading with Empathy

LinkedIn: Maria Ross

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